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Messages - andydinger

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Girl's Centres of Excellence / Re: County Squads and RTC's
« on: November 18, 2017, 10:40:26 AM »
Just FYI, I was talking to an England scout at a recent RTC game and he was bemoaning the fact that they didn't have the time or resources to get to more games outside the RTC pathway. They are mostly volunteers who get paid expenses for a limited number of games so obviously they have to prioritise the games where there is the most potential talent on display. They do sometimes get to the latter rounds of the ESFA county cups and occasionally a schools final or 2 but they are completely unable to follow up on a tip-off about some single individual at a grassroots club. The only way to be sure of putting yourself in the frame is to play in those games that have several girls who could be good enough. I'm sure we'd all like The FA to spend lots more money sending people all over the country to look at "missed individuals" but realistically they invest this money in the RTCs and hope that they are far-sighted enough to attract the local talent themselves.

When moving on from an RTC the most important thing is joining a side/club with a development ethos where you won't be sitting on the bench every week. This means doing your homework on the coaching and management structure and meeting the staff. Preferably do this before the trials (e.g. attend a home game or 2 in the previous season) so you know them and they know you before the decisions need to be made.

In my experience a couple of the WSL "Development" sides are even worse at developing their youngsters than some WPL sides. However, in general, if you can get reasonable game time as a WSL club, the training and support environment will be better than that at most WPL clubs. There is a lot more variability in WPL clubs so you do have to choose carefully. Some are very focused on winning with what they have this season rather than worrying too much about the future. But there are a few out there (mostly with good Junior or even RTC programmes of their own) to whom player development is everything. Even at 16 a good quality player should be able to compete (with a bit of match practice under her belt) with 20-somethings. If they can't then it's unlikely any WPL or WSL club will be that interested in them.

As I understand it, Tier 1 clubs will play in 2 leagues of 6-8 teams (North & South) but will also play in a cup competition against Tier 2 & 3 clubs. Tier 2 & 3 clubs will probably play friendlies against each other (probably once a month or so) but will play their league football at grassroots level. For the U10s & U12s this will be against boys but for U14s & U16s this will be girls leagues.

It is the boy's league that concerns me most. I get the impression U12 and U10 would only verses boys, but U14 and U16 would only against girls in the same tier.

The problem is that successful boys teams at grassroots are successful because the boys are big and kick hard, and not because they have any great skill. The girls will have to learn to deal with that, but then will move to u14, and all they have learnt about copying with huge, hard-kicking players will be useless.

My main concern is that decent standard girls leagues are few & far between, so it going to be interesting how all these Tier 2 & 3 clubs organise themselves next summer. Appropriate boys leagues at U10 & U12 are easy to find.

My experience of my daughter's team (a selective "Academy" but not an official CoE) playing in a boys league for the past few years, is that it works very well even up to U14, and has significantly accelerated the girls development. Her team is now playing in a U16 girls league and the girls have the technical skill that all the training has provided with a physical edge (fitness, ball pressing, quick pass-&-move, etc.) developed to combat the boys that most other girls just aren't used to and can't cope with. The key to getting this right is entering the team at the right boys level. Too high and the girls won't be able to compete, too low and it just turns into a physical battle with no technical skill and cricket scores. In our league the ideal seems to have been about league 4/5 of 7 but I guess this depends on the quality of both the league and the "Academy". In this league the top divisions are filled with not-quite-academy boys who are very far from the "huge, hard-kicking players" without "any great skill". There is no way a team of girls (even the Tier 1s) will ever be able to compete at that level in my opinion...

I don't understand why people think that playing at boys grassroots level is better for development than playing at a centre, from what I've experienced the quality of coaching and general professionalism of centres is far higher than grassroots teams. Even at the age of 9 when I was playing boys grassroots football the coach wanted to win in any way possible so he played the biggest, strongest players and when I turned up to a match and didn't play a single minute that's when I decided to trial for a centre of excellence, where the coaches insist on trying to play good football whilst creating a competitive environment. 

My daughter is really lucky to get the best of both worlds. She plays for an all-female academy with level 2/3 coaches, physios, strength & conditioning programme, etc. But all the academy teams play in a grassroots "boys" league which has been fantastic for their competitive development. So much so that my daughter's U14 team won their league last season without losing a single league game. Admittedly they were in too low a division because "they were just a bunch of girls" but it takes time to get promoted to the point of equality...
Oh and quite a few of the players have been selected for the other home nations, except England of course!

My question is what happens to the 16 year olds in year 12?
Most WSL clubs now have 6th Form Academies, nominally called "U19s" but predominantly made up of 16 & 17 year-olds. This now seems to be the main path to Elite football.

Also how does this integrate with the Centre of Excellences structure? Can girls from the a Centre of Excellence attend the FA GIRLS’  REGIONAL EXCELLENCE CAMPS which are linked the the ACC?
Like the South West this is a forerunner to the replacement of most(?) Centres of Excellence that will happen in 2016:,8125.0.html
I believe the girls from the South West have been eligible for the England camps, although whether any of them were selected this year I don't know.

The interesting development at my daughter's (ex-COE) club is that now all the age groups up to U14s are playing in boys leagues. Apart from the immense satisfaction of watching my younger daughter's "bunch of girls" going unbeaten in her U14 league all season, the girls' development has been tremendous. Playing against boys has increased their physicality with & without the ball, the speed of passing, the quickness to close down - in fact all those things that seem to be missing from U14s girls football most of the time (with a couple of notable exceptions!!). So much so that when it came to playing in the Girls County Cup, they just blew every team apart and comfortably won the final last Saturday.

Of course none of them will be eligible for England call-up (although several are playing for other home nations) until they get to 6th-form college but thankfully it seems like there's an almost clean slate at that level, both in International and Academy terms. My elder daughter has moved away from home and hence from our (localish) club to a WSL1 U19s Academy/6th Form. Quite a few at the Academy are from the CoE but many aren't. The level of technical and fitness training is just a whole world above what you get at any CoE or Junior Academy. That's when the commitment to try and play WSL & International football really starts...

Having spoken to someone at our county fa its clear that the issue is unclear! A lot of guessing is going on.  Hopefully someone will make the whole thing clear soon.

Wouldn't it be nice if something became clear soon?! However, the betting round here is that the actual details won't be clarified any further until the start of 2016 when the clubs & counties need to start preparing for their license applications. That also gives time for The FA to get feedback on what little they've announced so far and get a bit more info from the 2 ACC experiments.

Don't worry Gorky, it's not just you that thinks this has raised more questions than answers! The SW-ACC programme (and presumably the East programme in 2015-16) only has grassroots clubs and a regional COE. So that doesn't indicate what the model will be for 3(.5?) tiers of clubs below the Regional Centres in 2016-17. It doesn't say who might run the Regional Centres (the existing counties or the tier 1 clubs?) or whether there will be elite leagues as well as grassroots leagues. But personally I can't see Arsenal & Chelsea joining the Herts/Surrey Girls League!!!

I guess we will have to wait for a more detail explanation (which might not happen until 2016!) until the girls know what sort of football they'll be playing in 2016...

Off Topic / This Girl Can
« on: January 19, 2015, 12:02:15 AM »
Let me lay my stall out right from the start: well done to Sport England for a fantastic campaign idea: "This Girl Can". Of course this forum might not be the most appropriate for discussing this as most of us here either know, or are, girls who already do.

But can you believe some of the drivel that's being written about it, saying how awful it is? My (least) favourite example is this one:

Their objections:
  • using the word "girl" as older people will object
  • women's bodies are shown on screen which must therefore be sexualised images intended for a male audience
  • use of the term "sweating like a pig" is too close to "fat pig"
  • should be about feelings and emotions rather than exercise

Is it just me or are there some real die-hard "activists" out there (although exactly what they are campaigning for I'm not sure) who are not happy seeing women choose any form of activity that is currently majority male?

Women's Football / Re: Women's football and the military
« on: January 18, 2015, 11:41:46 PM »
Repeat with me - "I will not allow him to draw me back into the topic... I will not allow him to draw me back into the topic... I will not allow him to draw me back into the topic..."

"I will not allow him to draw me back into the topic... I will not allow him to draw me back into the topic... I will not allow him to draw me back into the topic..."

Yeah you're right, that does feel better! Now if you see me slip again you know what to do... ;D

Women's Football / Re: Women's football and the military
« on: January 04, 2015, 10:51:34 PM »
This debate is getting so old now i'm thinking of leaving the forum. It goes nowhere but round and round in circles with the same points being brought up time and time again but in a slightly different way.

I'm sorry, you're right. I've tried to get him (if that's an acceptable, non-labelling pronoun?) to put forward some rational explanation why his "game" has a total following of 1 and I've failed on every occasion. I should know not to try to put forward rational debate against pseudo-legalese clap-trap. I promise (no really I do this time!) not to bother in future. I just wish there was a mute or block button...!

Women's Football / Re: Women's football and the military
« on: December 31, 2014, 08:36:40 PM »
Nope, war's not changing, just who UKG is allowing to participate on their behalf (should they want to and prove themselves to be up to the job).

Currently The FA allows anyone to play their version of the game together up to U16 (if they want to). One day they might even extend this so that anyone can play at any age (as they can for example in cricket). No other rule changes required...

Of course anyone is at liberty to invent any other game and call it "football" (a bit like the Americans do) and allow whoever they like to play it. If people like the idea, then they'll play it. If they don't, they won't. That what a GAME is... voluntary & entertaining.

Women's Football / Re: Mick Mulhern
« on: November 19, 2014, 05:47:42 PM »
I try not to "aim" my posts at anyone in particular but to contribute to the debate. I suppose in a way I was just agreeing with The Cabbage and expanding on what he said. If we're going to grow the women's game we will have to accept some sacrifices along the way. Some of those sacrifices are easy (for me anyway, e.g. ignoring the immature insults on social media, welcoming 'plastics' to matches, etc.), some are much more painful (e.g. losing a brilliant part-time manager because the role just got full-time, not getting a ticket to Wembley because I left it too late, etc.). But overall my sadness at the sacrifices are significantly outweighed by my happiness at the progress (however tortuous) the game is making.

Women's Football / Re: Mick Mulhern
« on: November 18, 2014, 06:29:13 PM »
I love the plastics vs true fans debate in the men's game and it's great to see the same debate creeping into the women's game. Why "great"? Because it means there are people coming to watch the game who are not committed "wet Sunday" fans but are paying to watch nonetheless.

We've proved over many years that there are not enough "true fans" (however you define that term) to keep a club financially viable at the top 2 levels of either mens or womens football. The clubs rely on the plastics to boost the numbers and pay the decent (overpaid in the mens case!) players. So I'm always happy when I see lots of plastics watching a game and I believe they are just as entitled to their opinion as the diehards. The fact that their opinions are often more critical is just because they are coming to be entertained (whatever their own definition of that may be) and object when they don't get what they paid for.

If you don't like plastic fans then I'm afraid you either have to hope your team gets demoted or you have to go support the WPL or non-League football...

Women's Football / Re: Transfer News and Gossip
« on: November 14, 2014, 11:45:54 AM »
Well that settles the "Kirby at Reading for another season" discussion:

Women's Football / Re: School day matches
« on: October 25, 2014, 10:24:48 AM »
Does sound a bit odd! It's allowed but only if the school says it is. Our school is OK with the odd day off for big national competitions or international camps/trials but I'm sure it wouldn't be happy if it became a regular local club thing.

FYI the club my daughter is at is WSL2 and plays against boys on a Saturday morning. Very entertaining!

The FA WSL / Re: A Close Shave
« on: October 15, 2014, 05:01:57 AM »
You cannot appeal or change factual decisions but technical error by referees can be changed.

No blame for the Liverpool players at all. The man in black made a huge mistake and the integrity of the competition has been violated. Shame on the FA...

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your viewpoint) the only referees decisions that can be appealed are disciplinary ones. FIFA Law 5 states: "The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final."

So the referee can be sacked for making a howler but The FA can't do anything about it.

I believe the FA's primary goal in the CoE reorganisation was not any impact it might have on clubs, who to be honest they don't give a flying **** for, but on the quality of the U17 talent progressing to the England team. Did condensing the talent pool produce better footballers? Is it too early to judge this? It might be worth looking at the stats for the England U21s and U19s to see how many came from "outside the system". Or even recent senior & U23 players such as Fran Kirby...

The FA WSL / Re: Everton down
« on: September 29, 2014, 12:02:10 PM »
I suspect the following statement, "An FA WSL2 club who is promoted to FA WSL1 will be set individual targets to support the transitional phase", in The FA's Club Development Plan suggests that they will give them every chance to be eligible for promotion. Mind you, if it was Man City, Arsenal or the franchise currently in Nottingham being relegated then it might be a different story!

The FA WSL 2 / Re: FA WSL 2 fixtures
« on: September 05, 2014, 12:11:30 PM »
Yeovil 2-3 Reading. Phew, that was closer than last time! The quality in the WSL2 has really moved forward over the season...

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