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Friday, 26 September 2014 13:47

ESF Events Announce 2015 Tournament Programme

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ESF Events Announce 2015 Tournament Programme
 
Butlins Bognor Regis, 1989, 110 youth football teams join up for the very first ESF end of season tour. In the Spring of 2015, ESF expect 1100 teams to take part in their festivals.
 
Director of ESF Events, Martyn Young, possibly summed up the reasons for this remarkable growth: "Going on tour provides a rare and exciting opportunity for young players, coaches and supporters to build team spirit and morale."
 
"Our goal is to provide a positive, exciting football experience for everyone involved, one that children will remember fondly with their families and friends for years to come."
The festivals are available to boys from Under 7s (2008) to Under 15s (2000), and girls from Under 10s (2005) to Under 16s (1999). Most importantly, they are open to boys and girls of all abilities. This accessibility has resulted in a total of 900,000 players, coaches and spectators taking part in the events since the very first one at Bognor Regis.
 
The festivals take place at a number of the UK's leading holiday centres at Butlins and Haven, and they also host an International Festival at Disneyland Paris.  The festival in Scotland takes place at Craig Tara Haven holiday camp in Ayr festival, with 150 youth teams from Scotland taking part each year. 
 
To add to the excitement, they have a celebrity presentation ceremony to close each festival. Last year’s ceremony in Ayr saw Gordon Strachan hand out trophies to every single participant.
 
As well as being available to players of all abilities, ESF do offer up a reward for the most successful teams. After all the festivals have taken place, ESF culminates with the ESF festival finale, bringing together all the best teams from all the venues, and giving them the opportunity to become the Champion of Champions.
 
So what does the future hold for Martyn Young and ESF Events? 
 
"We plan to continue to provide professionally organised, well attended youth football festivals that offer teams from all over the UK an exciting end of season tour experience. ESF is the biggest youth football festival in the UK, and one of the biggest in Europe. We'll be doing everything possible to ensure it's an experience that everyone involved never forgets", said Martyn. 
 
 
 
 
Monday, 22 September 2014 10:19

Dexter's Football Journal - Out Now!

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Dexter’s Football Journal – Out Now!

Dexter’s Football Journal, released in July this year by E.J Mann, tells the story of Dexter, a 10 year old whose wish is to have his Spanish football hero become his coach. We found the time to catch up with the author, to find about more about the book.
 
Emma Mann has always had the writers bug, composing books from a young age, and still remembers when her mum sent one of her stories in to a local competition and it won a prize. After the success of her first novel Amelia’s Star in 2006, the World Cup year of 2014 seemed the right time to release her next, given that its focus was football.
 
Noticing a lack of football themed books for the 8-12 age range, Emma created Dexter’s Football Journal, a story told from the perspective of Dexter which depicts a series of diary entries as he follows the football season, and keeps all readers in mind being ‘packed with match scores, summaries and training ideas- and lots of football graphics,’ says Emma.
 
The inspiration for the book is attributed to her son: ‘The storyline is very much based on him. In the story the character idolises this Spanish hero, and wants him to be his coach, and I remember my son when he was in P2, he idolised Fabregas when he was at Arsenal. I remember him turning to me and saying ‘Mum, I wish he was my dad’.
 
It is perhaps this real life inspiration that makes the story very relatable to young football fans. As Emma suggests ‘I think the book dives into so many little boys’ dreams that they will become a professional footballer and how much they idolise certain players’.
 
Since the launch Emma has received great feedback for the book, saying ‘there’s been lots of enthusiasm, it’s been lovely,’ with one independent Amazon review calling it ‘a novel that will help quench the football thirst of young fans’. Another fan of the book is Emma’s son and inspiration, who ‘read it and kept trying to guess the ending, ultimately whether Fabio would agree to coach Dexter or not’.
 
The novel has also caught the attention of many football clubs where Emma has taken part in meet and greet sessions and done book signings. Added to this it will feature as a competition prize in an upcoming issue of Shoot magazine.
 
Dexter’s Football Journal is now widely available in libraries across the UK and is available to buy in local bookshops and on Amazon.
Thursday, 18 September 2014 12:18

Preston M&L Easter Cup 2015

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Preston Easter Cup Fri 3rd – Sun 5th April 2015
 
Since 1996, hundreds of teams have gathered from across the globe to experience the unique atmosphere that is cultivated during the Preston M&L Easter Cup.  They wish to invite you and your team to come along in 2015 and experience is first hand!
 
They promise to provide top class organisation, playing facilities and flexible accommodation options, giving youth footballers the best possible environment to develop and achieve their full potential.  They are known for top quality planning from a team with more than a decade of experience
 
Benefits Include:
 
  • Guaranteed minimum 5 matches
  • Qualified referees in all matches
  • Quality grass pitches
  • Extra night available
  • 11-a-side cup and trophy competitions
  • 7-a-side fair play trophy for all teams
  • Bespoke medal for all participants
  • Flexible accommodation options
 
The Easter Cup timetable (see below) is carefully designed to ensure it is running like clockwork – all set in a magnificent world class playing venue in the heart of Lancashire.
 
Timetable 2015
Preston M & L Easter Cup
Friday 3rd April
 
Teams arrive and check into accommodation
 
Saturday 4th April
 
 
Big kick off – games played all day
 
 
 
Sunday 5th April
 
 
 
 
Knock out stages begin with Semi and finals – games played till late afternoon
11 a-side Easter Cup & Trophy Presentations
7 a-side Easter Festival Friendship Trophy Presentations
 
The Preston Cup stand for...
Fair Play, Friendship, Participation, Excellence, Fun & Enjoyment
 
Their aim...
We aim to provide top class organisation, playing facilities and accommodation, giving young footballers the best possible experience to develop and achieve their potential
 
Their goal...
Ultimately for the Easter Cup to be the best Easter youth football event in Europe
 
'All in an excellent experience.  Every player, coach, parent thought it was great, and have recommended it to other teams.  Great job!'  Arniston Rangers.
 
Below is some information on registration and accommodation prices:
 
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Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:37

Protein and the impact on recovery - by Elaine Lowden

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The refuelling by the athlete post exercise can sometimes be compromised compared to a pre-nutrition regime. It is essential for an athlete to practice a balanced diet, one which specifically includes: carbohydrate and protein. In addition, practicing a diet which offers protein after training and competition will help the body to recover from intense physical exertion and ultimately, allowing another bout of exercise to occur, if required, the following day. During and after exercise the muscles can become tired and fatigue is likely to occur. Rest is essential but it is also important to highlight that protein is key to reduce these symptoms and allow the athlete to achieve optimum sporting performance.  
 
The body requires 10-15% protein from the diet as a general rule. However, a greater amount of protein is needed by an athlete and protein needs vary depending on the athlete’s weight. The recommended amount is 1.2-1.5g/kg which is easier to monitor than calculating the percentage of protein that should be consumed daily.
 
The reasons for athletes requiring more protein than non-athletes is due to the muscle damage that occurs during exercise and for increased strength required for optimum performance, particularly while performing power bursts. As the body naturally tears the muscle fibres through exercise, however by consuming protein in the diet will reduce the symptoms of tiredness and delay the onset of muscle soreness. It is highly beneficial to refuel within the first 30 minutes post exercise to prevent a delay in the recovery process..  
 
Non-vegetarians tend to consume a higher proportion of protein from animal sources rather than from plant sources. A sample of post exercise meal could include a small chicken breast (containing 26g protein) on wholemeal bread (7g of protein) and a large glass of semi skimmed milk (containing 16g protein).
 
For those who are vegetarians, there are a wide range of products on the market which are rich sources of protein including; quorn, tofu, eggs, dairy produce, beans (eg kidney beans, baked beans). Vegans will obtain their protein from beans and tofu, these can be added to vegetables and sauces for curries and stir fries.  If a meal cannot be tolerated after exercise examples of snacks could be; natural yoghurt and a small handful of almonds or walnuts (8-10) or a fruit smoothie made with natural yoghurt and a wide variety of berries. 
 
 
When I first started coaching one of my main focuses was to try and create a team that looks up and passes the ball. I was working with an under 10 team and at every training session I was always emphasizing the need to keep your head up and pass out of trouble. I WAS WRONG and if this scenario sounds familiar to your own situation then you are wrong too.
 
Don’t feel bad about it, it is a common mistake to make. You hear it so often from coaches and parents, it was probably one of the first things that was drilled into you when you first started getting coached as a child, but just stick with me and I will explain why I feel that my own training methods were letting my team down.
 
First of all we need to look at why the players keep their head down. Quite simply it is because they are not comfortable with the ball at their feet yet.
 
Players automatically become better players if the focus is not on the ball at their feet. Once players become comfortable with the ball at their feet, their heads will automatically start to come up.
 
Sometimes coaches are guilty of getting their young players to pass the ball and look up before they are comfortable on the ball. This can and does result in players that are scared of receiving the ball in fear of miss-controlling it or making a mistake. This normally results in players in defensive positions just kicking the ball up field or out of play whenever the opposition gets close to putting them under pressure (more worrying is the fact that most players will get applauded for taking such drastic measures).
 
So what can we do to prevent this? In the development stage aged 5-11 it is important to develop the players ball control. During mini games and drills players of this age can be selfish with the ball and try to keep it to themselves rather than passing to a team mate, this is fine, in fact this is good. The more comfortable the player is with the ball the better the player they will become as they develop.
 
Below I have a set of drills that will help encourage ball retention in young players. The whole idea is to stress the players and put them in uncomfortable positions, so that they learn to feel comfortable with no support.
 
Now a few things that we have got to bare in mind.
 
1.They are not robots, if we are to develop better standards of football then we must continuously build on these drills and ethics. Having 1 or 2 training sessions working on this and then expecting your players to be better in possession is not going to happen. Be patient.
 
2.Make sure the players know the reasons behind any drills you assign them, use real life situations if possible and try to instill a strong point acceptance within your group that they should have the confidence to take control of a situation and not just panic and kick the ball out.
 
3.Remember these drills demand that the player stays on the ball as much as possible and only releases the ball when absolutely necessary.
 
Drill 1
 
This is a simple warm up that starts the session off with the emphasis on possession. Split the players into 2 groups. 1 group starts with a ball each and the other group must try to take the ball off them within an allotted time. Encourage the players trying to gain possession to try to take the ball rather than just kicking it out of play.
 
Drill 2
 
In this drill you have a 1v1 situation in the area with a supporting player for both players.
 
The idea is to hold onto possession for as long as possible and only use the support player if it is absolutely necessary. Once the player makes the pass to the supporting player they must swap roles. If the player loses the possession they must then try to retrieve the ball back from the other team while they then try to hold on to possession.
 
Drill 3
 
This drill progresses on from the last drill. In this scenario the supporting player must make it as hard as possible for his team mate to make the pass by constantly moving around the area. This will force the player in possession to keep hold of the ball or do something special to make the pass.
 
Drill 4
 
Moving on from the last drill this drill brings the supporting player into action. Once again the player in the middle must try to hold onto the ball for as long as possible. Once they play a ball to their team mate they can then join them in the area to make a 2v1 situation. If they lose possession the player that last touched the ball must retreat outside the area. Don’t turn it into 2v1 passing, only pass when they are in trouble or going to lose the ball. If the attack breaks down restart again with 2 in the middle.
 
Drill 5
 
In this final drill add 2 end zones to the area and split them into 2 boxes. Create a 2v2 in the area with a support player for each team into the end zones. The team with possession dictate the end zones, so if the reds are in possession the red player in the end zone must decide which square is the best position for support and move over to that square. The player from the blue team must move into the square vacated by the red player.
 
Conclusion
 
Is this style of play risky? Sure! Are these drills designed to take the players out of their comfort zone? Absolutely. Will the players benefit in the long run by concentrating on ball control at an early stage of their development? Yes.
 
Putting stress on your players in training and asking them to play the same on match day is risky, difficult and a long term process, but if we want to create a nation of footballers that are comfortable on the ball and able to cope in pressure situations then we as coaches have to hold our own nerve because it’s one thing covering it in training but it’s a different thing all together not to lose our own discipline on match day. You must portray a strong belief in your players and their ability to achieve their targets.
 
Have you been caught out by this trap? Are you guilty of instilling panic into your players every time an opposition player gets near them? Am I wrong with my beliefs? 
 
About the Author:
 
David Lowe is the founder of Grassroots Interactive Coaching and keen amateur coach. He has a passion for improving grassroots football and modernizing the services available for coaches. For more articles his blog is available at http://grassrootsbuddy.com/blog/ 
 

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Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:01

YFS Archive: Stonewall Scotland kick start soccer campaign

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The idea of a footballer being gay usually invokes the usual thoughts or responses: “Don’t be so daft”, “That’s just not right, it would give me the creeps.”
 
It’s a bleak outlook but in all seriousness, it really is the way most people respond to any discussion on the topic. I know I have. I’m not proud of it, I’m just honest.
 
YFRadio Interview with Stonewall Scotland Director, Colin Macfarlane:
 
But that needs to change – and it is. A fourth response is becoming much more prevalent: “Who cares?”
 
If you think that may seem flippant, it very much isn’t. It’s my choice of response now too, and here’s why on a footballing (or sporting) level: sexuality has nothing to do with the talent of a footballer. The over-riding reason though? It really does not matter to me whether someone is homosexual are not, and the public perception of gay people needs to come around to this way of thinking. We are all the same, no matter how different our choices are.
 
And Stonewall is doing their best to help promote these visions. And this weekend, they are targeting the world of football with a Rainbow-laces campaign for footballers to wear on their boots. The laces have been distributed to every male footballer across all 134 teams in the UK. Each player is asked to wear the special laces in their club fixtures on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September. The campaign has a simple message: ‘Right Behind Gay Footballers’ – and it is designed to kick start a change in attitudes and make the country’s most popular sport more gay-friendly.
 
Stonewall Scotland has five priorities for 2013/14: Hate crime, Equal marriage, Education, Workplace and Public Services. They will challenge these priorities through policy development, cultural and attitudinal change, lobbying for legal change, providing information and good practice design and advice.
 
The organisation has teamed up with Paddy Power bookmakers and Stonewall Deputy Chief Executive Laura Doughty had this to say on their website: “It’s time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game. That’s why we’re working with Paddy Power on this fun and simple campaign. By wearing rainbow laces players will send a message of support to gay players and can begin to drag football in to the 21st century.”
 
The Stonewall & Paddy Power team does have a very tough foe, however.
 
Homosexuality in football – particularly in Britain – has lived a checkered and dark past. There has only ever been one active British professional footballer to come out as gay, Justin Fashanu. He made the headlines early in his career for being the first £1 million black player in Britain but those headlines were all but forgotten when Fashanu announced he was gay in 1990 after a stop-start career (perhaps due, in part, to his struggles off the field with shielding his sexuality).
 
John Fashanu – The first £1 million black footballer and only ever active British gay professional footballer
Fashanu was disowned by his brother and went on to receive inevitable grief from the stands. Allegedly Brian Clough had chastised Fashanu previously while both were at Nottingham Forest after he heard rumours about the player’s visits to gay bars. That old-fashioned style of management was mirrored by fans and no doubt players too, even if the latter was only in their minds. As most know, Justin Fashanu took his own life a few years later.
 
Until February this year, Fashanu was our only memory of gay footballers. Then, a little American winger called Robbie Rogers left Leeds United in January and retired from the game soon after. Weeks later he stated it was because he was gay and that he felt you just “impossible” to be gay and a football player at the same time.
 
Robbie Rogers – back with LA Galaxy
Now though? Rogers is back playing football – for none other than LA Galaxy in the MLS – and he’s been credited with “blazing a trail” by NBA basketball player, Jason Collins who became the first active male athlete in a major American professional team sport to do so.
 
So there is hope. Rogers claims that it’s fans’ attitudes that stop gay players from coming out. “I’m sure there are a lot of players over the years who have played in England, or wherever, and are too frightened to come out”, he said in an interview with the BBC.
 
He probably is right, though he does state that it’s not always due to homophobia that fans treat players this way. “For whatever reason, I don’t think fans in England or fans in the UK are homophobic at all. They are just so passionate they will do anything to help their team get a little bit of an edge.
 
“The things they will say in a stadium do not reflect their character”.
 
He also has no grudges to his Leeds United fans and colleagues, saying “Leeds fans are crazy, passionate people but I think they would have supported me.
 
“They would have seen what I went through, and the struggles, and taken me under their wing.
 
“In the changing room, maybe it would have been awkward in the first few days with guys not knowing what to say. But I think they would have been supportive and loving”.
 
So if Rogers can do it and arguably then make a step up in his career upon return (watch his reception to taking the field for his LA Galaxy debut – wow), why can’t other gay players?
 
It’s not because there aren’t any. Stonewall believes that, across the clubs playing in England, Scotland, and Wales in the Premier League, Championship, Football League 1, Football League 2, Scottish Premier League, Scottish Championship, Scottish League 1, and Scottish League 2 – and the 5,000 players across those leagues – that there is a 22,947,321,563,647,480,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to one chance of there being not one homosexual, assuming a 6% likelihood.
 
That’s over a quadrillion.
 
We can only hope that this campaign and the use of #RBGF prompts some of our footballers to come out and accept their sexuality – and in return being accepted by peers, colleagues and fans.
 
The chances of that happening? Quadrillion to one? No.
 
100%.
Thursday, 07 August 2014 12:24

The Importance of Hydration - By Elaine Lowden

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For sport it is essential to eat a balanced diet to ensure that the body is fuelled pre and post exercise and in my role as a Sports Nutritionist when analysing athletes’ diets, I often find that athletes do monitor their food intake.
 
However it is equally important that adequate fluids are consumed to reduce the risk of dehydration by promoting good health and enhancing sporting performance.This area of nutrition is often overlooked and working with athletes it is apparent that many have experienced at some point symptoms of dehydration including; poor gut health resulting in episodes of constipation and impaired sporting performance which affects them in achieving their personal sporting goals.
 
Thirst should not be used as an indicator to drink fluids, as at this point you have already lost approximately 1 to 2 litres of water from the body. Working in sport has exposed me to poor practice from athletes who have failed to hydrate sufficiently due to the weather being cooler with the athlete thinking that sweating had not occurred significantly in such a climate to hydrate appropriately. The intensity and duration of their training did in fact cause an increased sweating rate and as a result their reaction times were reduced, they experienced headaches combined with physical and mental tiredness which would affecti further training sessions.
 
If you feel thirsty you are already in a dehydrated state so to avoid this drink water throughout the day, aiming for at least 2 litres of water. For some it is not practical to carry a 2 litre bottle of water, instead carry a 500ml bottle and top it up with water throughout the day.
 
A general guide to monitor your hydration status is to check your urine, it should be a light yellow colour indicating that the body is well hydrated, however if you consume lots of fruit and vegetables then the colour of your urine will be a slightly darker yellow.
 
To hydrate the body it is necessary to consume water containing electrolytes, this will not only replace lost fluids but also replace salts lost through sweating which will maintain a positive fluid balance. There is an increased demand by the body to drink additional water as a result of sweating occurring more rapidly in warm weather, increased duration of exercise and intensity of exercise. Failure to hydrate can cause fatigue, dizziness, poor concentration and due to these symptoms, can ultimately inhibit sporting performance for the athlete.  Many athletes make the mistake of eating more when they experience these symptoms however it is likely that these symptoms would be a result of poor hydration.
 
In my experience many athletes consume other drinks which they are not aware do not hydrate the body. Tea and coffee for example can cause the body to lose water as they have an anti-diuretic effect and will ultimately increase the risk of dehydration. Other drinks such as fizzy drinks due to the caffeine content have a negative effect on the hydration status and should be kept to a minimum and not replace water.  
Tuesday, 03 June 2014 00:00

Considering kit for the new season?

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If you have seen any of the Youth Football Scotland media team volunteers at youth matches across Scotland, you may have noticed them wearing Umbro branded gear.
 
The guys at Umbro have been long-term supporters of YFS and thanks to them we are able to provide a slick branded uniform to our staff and volunteers across the country.
 
Umbro are keen to speak with Scottish youth clubs who are considering purchasing team kit and equipment for next season. 
 
There is no pressure on clubs to make a purchase, the Umbro guys are just keen to see if they can help you make a saving on kit for the new season.
 
To find out more input your details below: 
 

Umbro

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You may just have been living under a rock, if you haven't noticed the rapid rise of girls and womens football in Scotland. Growing participation at all levels has been reflected with success on the international stage at youth and senior level.
 
Brand new on the scene in 2014 is an organisation called 'Scottish Women in Sport' (SWIS). They are a group of like-minded professionals involved in the administration, coaching, broadcasting and promotion of sport, and in the wider legal, business and commercial sectors, with the common aim of getting more women and girls involved in sport, promoting positive role models, sharing good practice, securing more media coverage and ensuring increased investment.
 
Taking place in May is the very first SWIS conference. It is an event for anyone who is interested in raising the profile and increasing awareness of all sports for women. The day will be scheduled to advise and empower Clubs, Organisations, National Governing Bodies and individuals on ‘how to’ to create and maximise their own ’media platform’.
 
For full details or to book your place at the event, click here.
 
If you can't make the conference but would like more details on SWIS, you can follow them on Twitter @scotwomensport, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or click here to visit their website.
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 16:59

Scottish youth clubs offered African link

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Africa on the Ball are looking to partner with youth football clubs across Scotland. Football is a global game loved the world around and can be used as a tool to teach about global awareness and citizenship. AOTB would love to link up with youth football clubs and talk about out work in Zambia and see if they would be interested in sponsoring an aspect of our work.
 
WHAT YOU WOULD GET
 
As part of any partnership we would want to ensure your club and its members benefit by the following:
 
- A talk about our work and football in Africa (if wanted)
- A thank you photo from Zambia
- Communication through newsletters and Social Media
 
WHAT CAN YOU HELP WITH?
 
If you’re wondering how you might be able to help our work, there’s many ways! Here’s just a few:
 
- Donating unwanted football kit & boots
- Sponsoring a player
- Donating unwanted CDs/DVDs
- Running a fundraiser for our project in Zambia
- Supporting us online when you use Top Cash Back and Easy Fundraising
 
We would like to thank West Park United who last year donated kit to Africa on the Ball (as pictured above).
 
If your club is interested or would like more information contact AOTB by the following methods:
Email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." title="">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter - @africaontheball
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