The Irish Football Association has launched its largest ever consultation, the results of which will revolutionise boys' and girls' youth football in Northern Ireland.
Entitled the Youth Football Review, it will engage with stakeholders across the game to develop a framework which will guarantee an active game that generates maximum enjoyment and technical development for every child, according to James Thompson, Director of the Irish FA Foundation.
He said: “We want to boost player retention and increase player quality. To do this the framework will be developed using the core principles of enjoyment and development and, crucially, we want all youth football in Northern Ireland to be aligned."
We have a very ambitious target of engaging with 40,000 people. This would be the largest engagement of its kind for the association
The framework will consist of four key pillars - active game, environment, education and governance - and provide a clear outline of how the youth game will be played across the mainstream pathways for both boys and girls.
Thompson further explained: “Once completed the framework will be an online interactive platform that everyone can access. To ensure it is truly reflective of football in this country we will be engaging with as many people as possible around Northern Ireland.”
Initially engagement will be through a survey on youth football before the Foundation hosts two roadshows in 2024, in February and June. Over the next eight weeks Foundation staff will be hosting information sessions on the review in clubs, schools and youth league venues across the country.
The Director of Foundation revealed: “We have a very ambitious target of engaging with 40,000 people. This would be the largest engagement of its kind for the association.”
Thompson will be working closely with the Irish FA’s Technical Director, Aaron Hughes, on the project.
I believe that, by working together with coaches, players, officials and parents, this piece of work will develop a better learning environment for aspiring footballers to flourish
"Youth football is where all players start their journey in the game. It is incumbent on us, as the governing body, to give them the best chance possible to reach their full potential," said Hughes.
"I believe that, by working together with coaches, players, officials and parents, this piece of work will develop a better learning environment for aspiring footballers to flourish."
It is anticipated that the framework will be approved by the beginning of the 2024-25 season.
You can have your say and share your thoughts on youth football by completing the Youth Football Review Survey
You can take the survey below to see some of the prizes you can win, from Northern Ireland senior international match tickets to £500 worth of equipment for a school/club.
The survey will close at 5pm on 30 November 2023.