Brooking continues grassroots reform

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The Independent Online

Sir Trevor Brooking has vowed to continue with his coaching blueprint even though he cannot get the professional game to fall in line with his ideas for improving young players.

As the Football Association's director of technical development, Brooking has been charged with the task of increasing standards in youth football, thus improving the chances of the England senior team. Brooking has identified a dearth in skills between the key development ages of five to 16, where the involvement of qualified coaches is at its lowest point.

But so far, despite some excellent work through sponsors Tesco, he has been unable to get a unified strategy, with clubs pocketing £180,000 a year from central funds with no obvious assessment of the work currently being done. Brooking accepts the situation is far from ideal. However, after a three-year vacuum, the former England midfielder is now focused on making his ideas work, even if his efforts must, for now, be solely concentrated at grassroots level.

"We needed investment on the coaching side and felt we knew what we were doing in the grassroots. If we waited for an agreement from the professional side, this document would never have surfaced, so we have just pushed on," Brooking said. "In the end you hope the various constituent parts will buy into the document and then the professional game come round to it."

The source of Brooking's frustration is obvious. It is widely accepted that some kind of strategy is required if English youngsters are not to slide even further behind their compatriots across Europe.

Funding is in place, too, around £20m of it annually to be exact. Not surprisingly, Brooking wants some control over how it is spent, putting in place a quality threshold and revised targets.

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