Archived: Open Letter to Worcester FA and the Football Community - archived

This content has been archived. It may no longer be relevant

* The comments made below are made by the owner of this website – Neil Brazier – and do not necessarily reflect the views of any football club that he may be a part of. Any comments made should not be held accountable to his affiliated club in any way, shape or form.*

Dear Worcester FA and the football community,

I know you are trying your best to encourage participation in Sunday League Football, but your methods are flawed. By introducing rolling substitutes to the Sunday League game you are actually hindering the game rather than helping it and here is my reasoning why.

1) By allowing 8 subs to be named but only allowing 5 of them to be used you are opening yourself up for a logistical nightmare. The referee will have to take extra vigilance to ensure only the five people are actually used and keep a stricter enforcement when substitutions are made.

2) You are taking away from the actual game of football. Everyone watches the Premier League and Match of the Day. You don’t see professional players rolling on and rolling off. Players all play FIFA on their games consoles, they want to recreate an authentic experience, they don’t want to be treated like children where this rule applies

3) You create a culture of power-play. If a team is a goal down with five minutes to go – what is to stop them making five rolling subs to put on their best five strikers and overloading on the opposition defence? Or vice-versa and shutting up shop with ten defenders on the field? You then create an American hockey-style tactics of changing the way the game is played. Again – taking away the authentic British side of football.

4) It could actually discourage participation as just because you can roll on and roll off players, doesn’t mean you are going to roll on those less talented players in your team. There is no enforcement in place to stop better players just getting a five minute breather and then roll back on again, at the expense of the lesser talented players, meaning they don’t get their chance to shine.

5) You are putting the referees under much more pressure to control the game – the Respect campaign needs to work from the top down. The FA needs to respect their referees as well as the players. I know of one instance where a referee was told if he makes a mistake in the mass confusion – for example, both teams making five substitutions together (bringing on ten players at once), that the ref will be docked points. This isn’t really fair to the referee.

6) Club secretaries who are used to a tiered system of charging players match fees based on time on the pitch, will now need to take more time to calculate the minutes that each player has played and could cause confusion and arguments if there is a disagreement between the two.

The system has it’s flaws. I can understand why it has been done in theory, but in practice it will be a huge mess for everyone involved. The Worcester FA board were overwhelmed with the votes opposed to the implementation of rolling subs yet they voted to trial it anyway. The board needs to be broader, accepting those who still play in the game. I emailed once to ask to be part of the team and never heard a reply, perhaps a sign that they’ve not yet embraced modern technology!

Rather than just moan about the changes, here is how I would encourage further participation.

1) Continue to introduce the kick-about days, where players who aren’t part of a club can just come down and play football.

2) The continuing decrease in participation mostly comes about from having to pay match fees, these are enforced by the club but set by the FA and the councils. They should be working closer with teams to provide cheaper or free facilities where possible so clubs can lower their match day fees.

3) Bring in more small-sided leagues such as Futsal to encourage those who want to play football but maybe don’t have enough players for an 11-a-side team. At these small-sided leagues, have representatives from 11-a-side clubs to talk about the potential to join that team. Players then gain awareness of what is out there and can sign up in groups rather than individually.

4) Help clubs with social events. If the FA is seen to be actively involved in sending clubs on mini-tours or organising large social kick-abouts or console game tournaments, it will create greater interest.

5) Help clubs affiliate themselves with youth setups. Once kids football reaches the end of the U16 season, those players should be fed into adult teams so they don’t stop playing. If clubs had an affiliate youth setup, it might also encourage adult players to get their kids playing and even take up coaching.

6) Offer incentives to clubs to create Reserve teams. This will give the option for those fringe players who can’t make the first team to get some playing time. Monetary discounts should be applied or donations to free facilities, equipment or kit.

There are ways to encourage participation in football. Bringing in rolling subs is not the answer. Just because players have the option to be rolled on or off that does not mean that more non-players are signing up to play.

It is of my personal opinion that things need to change at a higher level than grassroots if we want to encourage participation. Don’t be afraid to fight the system, challenge convention and other cliches. Things do need to change in Sunday League football, but not at the expense of the game.

Archived: Open Letter to Worcester FA and the Football Community - archived
Tagged on:                 

3 thoughts on “Archived: Open Letter to Worcester FA and the Football Community - archived

Comments are closed.