We know children learn and develop at varying speeds and by having a structure in place to be able to suit each child’s individual needs we can ensure we are always able to provide the correct environment to continue a child’s learning. This will include peer groups they are placed with and leagues in which they play in.
We have a strong emphasis on the Importance of the social needs for each child, after all football needs to fun first and foremost. To help us with this we encourage our age groups to practice together as much as possible, have lots of social time between children without team boundaries. We also encourage age groups to take part in activities outside of football together rather than individual teams. The strong social emphasis plays an important role also should a child need to move team as they will be familiar with all of the coaches and children.
Children need to also be challenged in different ways, for example a strong, quick powerful player may benefit from improved close ball control. We can support the child this way by allowing them to join another team to play some Futsal. By having the structure in place we’re able to quickly change the environment and maximise the child’s learning opportunities.
Since we’ve introduced this structure across the football club we’ve since a fall in drop out rates and more older children continuing to play at u18 and above. We believe this is because every child is given the right support at the right time in the right environment where many other clubs simply focus on the ‘advanced players’ in order to form an A team. At Hythe & Dibden YFC every child matters and their footballing journeys are all as important as each other.
To make this system work it has to be fully supported by our managers & coaches and of course the parents/guardians of the players. Without this support the system will not work. This also means that winning games will always become secondary to player development.