Football: Government back scheme to produce 'English Ginolas'

A Government-sponsored initiative aimed at developing a new gifted generation of English footballers was launched yesterday at Old Trafford. The scheme, under the umbrella of Football in the Community, is targeting children under the age of 11.

Primary and junior schools are being provided with pounds 1m worth of resource packs - including coaching videos - and equipment, thanks to sponsorship from Pizza Hut, Umbro and Sportsmatch.

The venture, which is expected to kick off in two weeks' time, has the full support of the Professional Footballers' Association, the Football League, the Football Association and the FA Premier League.

The children on the video come from Pallister Park Junior School in Middlesbrough. They are coached by Lawrie Pearson, the club's football in the community officer. "These packs can only help football in this country. The game needs a boost," he said. "We need to find players who can match the talent of Eric Cantona and David Ginola. It is the duty of coaches like myself to help youngsters develop their rapport of skills."

The Manchester United defender Paul Parker is convinced of the scheme's merits. "This can only do the game good," he said. "There was nothing similar in my day. There was no coaching and no help with technique. We just ran about getting in a sweat."

Martin Edwards, the Old Trafford chairman, said: "Any scheme that helps the grass roots of the game has to be applauded. We are obviously interested in such a development as our club is renown for bringing young players through."

This is the first scheme to be launched under the Government initiative "Sport - Raising The Game" which was announced by John Major in July this year. The Prime Minister, a Chelsea supporter, has sent his best wishes in a letter to the organisers.

He says: "It is only by giving children the chance to become involved in sport at an early age they can be allowed to develop their talents and eventually fulfil their potential."

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