Some great news finally. The governing body for association football in England has opened the first of 30 new “Parklife” centres.
As devoted followers of Non League football, we all know the problems faced by semi-pro and amateur clubs. Poor facilities, lack of money to improve said facilities which in turn leads to stunted development of talent – often the lifeblood of these clubs.
So what are the FA doing about it? Well, it seems that they are finally trying to address the problem with the help of the Government and Premier League. The first of 30 new “Parklife” centres has been opened in Sheffield and aims to develop players, but also provide a community centre which is open to all. FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn said:
“The Parklife Programme will lead to a step change in the provision of grassroots football in England. Over the next five years, we have laid out the ambitious target of creating a network of new football hubs across London to support the delivery of FA and County FA youth development and coach education programmes and to improve the quality of grassroots provision for clubs and teams.”
We have all bemoaned our national team and their performances in major tournaments. Looking at other European countries, we seem to have problems developing players to come through at the highest levels. Does this happen because we are simply not good enough? Or is it rather that money isn’t pumped into the grassroots game? That young players never reach their full potential because of how the authorities setup the game at the lowest levels? I have a feeling that this is the case.
You only have to look at how football is played in Holland. Each club has its own floodlit pitch with clubhouse and changing facilities. No wonder they have produced some of the most technically gifted footballers of all time.
I appreciate that not everyone is going to turn into the next “Jamie Vardy” or other such superstar. But surely this is a step in the right direction, with the Premier League sharing some of they money that it negotiated through TV deals.