English youth teams show it's not doom and gloom


The superior technique and decision-making of Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder may have been a chastening experience for England at Wembley, but the Football Association remains optimistic that the future is bright.

Shortly before the seniors were outclassed on Wednesday, the under-21s defeated Belgium, a country which in recent years has produced a lot of young talent, 4-0 at the Riverside. The previous night the under-19s beat the Czechs 2-1 at Brisbane Road. Both teams are strong contenders to qualify for their European Championship finals. That, in itself, is an achievement open to only eight countries, and until recently England were rarely among them.

There was further reason for encouragement before kick-off at Wembley when the pitch was occupied by participants from the FA Tesco Skills scheme to mark the passing of three million child places since its 2007 launch. That does not mean three million children (aged five to 11) have taken part as there is much duplication, but many thousands have experienced the courses, which initially concentrate on ball mastery before moving on to decision-making scenarios.

Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football development, said: "If you want to aspire to the elite game you have got to have a great skill base. Even the goalkeeper has got to be good with his feet. We need 11 players who can keep the ball and play through the thirds.

"By the time youngsters move into playing 11 v 11, the mental thought when the ball is on its way must be 'What am I going to do with it?' not 'Can I control it?' All too often, even watching 13- to 14-year-olds in academies, they are worrying about their control – by the time they look up they are tackled."

The FA is seeking, said Brooking, to expand from 106 coaches to 150 to extend the scheme nationwide and to establish stronger links with clubs following the adoption of the Elite Player Performance Plan [EPPP].

Courses are low-cost and their impact is widened as the FA coaches pass on their skills to teachers and club coaches. The hope is EPPP's mandatory coach qualification will drive up salaries so a good coach of five- to 11-year-olds can make a living teaching those "golden years", as is the case in the Netherlands.

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it