No leagues below U16s could be answer to ills

THE results speak for themselves. This past fortnight football’s non-challenging youth development system has produced these scores:

THE results speak for themselves. This past fortnight football’s non-challenging youth development system has produced these scores:

Under 18s: Rangers 0, North 18; Vale Rec 9, St Martin’s 2.

Under 16s: Rovers 17, Rangers 0 despite the winners playing the entire second period with eight instead of 11.

Under 14s: St Martin’s 1, Sylvans 12; Rangers 0, Rovers 16.

Corbet Cup (U12s): Geomarine Rovers 1, St Martin’s 8; Rangers 1, Rovers 12.

What does this tell us other than poor old Rangers are once again the whipping-boys of an unbalanced system?

You tell me, other than it is plainly not very healthy.

What is worse, there does not seem to be anybody willing, or able, to do anything about it.

Not so many years ago the pretty caring Youth Development

Committee (YDC) would have met regularly and chewed the cud over the problems. They would have urged clubs to help each other.

But YDC has gone for a Burton as, most surely, will a lot of those young footballers who will soon tire of the regular thrashings.

I know what I would do but, unfortunately, FA age-group restrictions and the success-at-all-cost aspirations of individual clubs, won’t allow it.

Bels have already given up the ghost on a couple of age-groups since this season’s fixtures were announced and, given the results of late, Rangers might wish they followed them.

The Haves have plenty, the Nots, very little.

It is all a tad depressing, not least for all those young goalies who may be acquiring back ailments long before their time.

Were football cricket, the entire pool of talent would be divvied up from the age of seven and upwards to the age of 14 and the leagues would be contested by teams of even abilities.

But that’s not going to happen because clubs will fight tooth and nail – and I wouldn’t blame them – and argue that why should they be punished for their better work and offer of better coaching and facilities.

There is perhaps another, controversial way, though, and it was a solution offered some years ago by former Muratti striker and Vale Rec Priaulx League winning coach, Ray Blondel.

His answer, I seem to remember, was cut out all league and cup football at all ages below the age of 14.

Below that, play for the enjoyment of it and concentrate on technical development.

School football will, he argued – and I tend to agree – offer enough of a competitive element to satisfy the needs of a hungry young footballer. The benefits would be that footballers when they reach

under-18 level, will not be turning their back on the sport due to the boredom of playing, and thrashing, the same players since the age of 11 and through four league age-groups.

It might also keep those who are consistently thrashed, playing the game a little or a lot longer.

Surely, the more control the GFA can have on player development, the better it is for those who count the most – the players.

Such a way would be an instant attack on the medal-hunting mentality that has been ever-creeping into youth football.

Let the clubs coach their under-16s, but when it comes to competition, leave that to the schools, as it always was when the GFA leagues were simply Junior A (16 to 18s) and Junior B (14 to 16s).

That’s not to say that there cannot be games played in the minis age-groups.

But take away the glorified prizes and the temptation to only join the clubs who might win, dissipates.

BARELY 10 years ago at least one GIAAC committee member – the track and field representative at the time – regularly headed for home late at night depressed at the thought of the vast task ahead to take the club forward into one worthy of the 21st century and the emerging talent at its disposal. I know that, because it was Yours Truly, who worried about how the club could do all it wanted to do.

A full decade on, GIAAC has been recognised as the South of England’s top club for development and, with it, it will be the area’s contender for the national award.

Naturally, I hope they win it.

Athletics has enjoyed a fantastic decade and the club has never been better run – without me I hasten to add. Stephen Green, a former Olympian in Jamaican colours, is an enthusiastic and well-organised fourth development officer, and the coaching expertise within the club is second to none in terms of middle and distance running.

Not everything is perfect, of course, and it never is in any sport, but GIAAC is enjoying golden times and it does so with the expertise and

experience of a host of stalwarts, working off the hard work, diligence and enterprise of people before them, some of which date back to those days in 2001.

If every sport were as professional as athletics then Guernsey’s sporting scene would be even more successful than it is.

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THE issue of depth is one that concerns all our main team sports. But, perhaps in one, rugby, it is a bigger issue than in cricket, football and hockey, simply because it has moved up the ladder further than its island counterparts.

Rugby has advanced well in recent seasons, both in terms of the flagship team and also in development.

But, sadly, the development arm of the operation has, as yet, been

unable to play a role when the first-team most needs it – i.e. when it has so many injuries as it has now.

‘The gap between our first and second team is huge,’ player-coach Jordan Reynolds said this week.

‘We’ve had the fortune of being promoted for two years, but some of the guys get left behind,’ he added.

Never have there been more

youngsters playing the oval ball game here, but it worries me that, as yet, there seems to be very few places to go when they reach the end of the academy line and while you won’t get me slagging off Reynolds, unless I am missing something very obvious, there is something missing in the overall Guernsey Rugby Club structure.

Guernsey rugby needs a wodge of second-tier clubs all feeding a

community first XV, not simply GRFC, which cannot forever and entirely depend on imports, no matter how good and entertaining they may be.

Jersey has a second tier to cater for its own academy products, but their problem is even more pronounced because while those emerging youngsters are good, they are nowhere near the standard needed to play in the Championship and against hard-nosed full-time professionals.

In reporting the recent home game against Barnes, one could not help overhear a conversation with a leading Barnes official who admitted he ideally wanted his team to finish third so they would not again be promoted into a division in which they cannot afford. Jersey have probably reached that point and, so just maybe, have Guernsey.

It’s intriguing to think how it will all pan out in the mid and longer term.

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IT WAS a brave move to allow an all-men’s team to be thrown into netball’s Division One mix.

But on the evidence of Lookingforasponsor’s victory over Resolution IT this week, it was a sensible one. Never did I expect to see a bunch of guys honed in various sports, play netball so skilfully and, at the same time, restraint.

If the island’s top women netballers become better players for the presence of the men harrying them, hustling them out of any complacency that exists, then it can only be a good thing.