City to help find local football stars

Share Button
Everton's Ross Barkley and Tony Hibbert © Trinity Mirror

Everton’s Ross Barkley and Tony Hibbert © Trinity Mirror

Liverpool is one of three cities earmarked for a plan to help transform grassroots football facilities and coaching in the UK.

As a pilot project Liverpool would play host to so-called football hubs which FA Chairman Greg Dyke’s Commission promises to have established across 30 cities by 2020 as well building artificial grass pitches on local-authority grounds that have been run-down by spending cuts.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said it was a “real coup” that the FA has chosen Liverpool as one of the pilot areas and said it would be a huge boost for the game as a whole.

“Liverpool and football go hand in hand, and each week tens of thousands of people either play or watch this much loved sport, so to be able to have the opportunity to develop the facilities and coaching currently on offer is massively exciting,” he said.

Dyke set out a target in 2013 of increasing the current number of English players in the Premier League playing regularly from the existing level of 66 to 90 by the time the 2022 World Cup in Qatar comes around.

Merseyside has had its fair share of renowned English talents such as Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and Manchester United’s skipper Wayne Rooney who came through the Everton academy before being signed by the Red Devils at the tender age of 18. Everton’s Ross Barkley has been tipped to make a similar impact in the years ahead.

Dyke described the “continuing reduction in the number of English players playing football at the highest level” as a “serious and growing problem for the future of English football”. Premier League figures for English players starting games at the ‘top six’ clubs has fallen from 28 per cent to 25 per cent for the season and pales in comparison to two decades ago when it was almost 70 per cent.

The face this challenge Dyke’s England Commission has focused on the pathway for home grown talent breaking into first teams of Premier League clubs.

Anderson added: “The council is a massive supporter of grassroots football, we don’t charge our junior teams to play and have invested in four 3G pitches to date, so this new partnership will further unleash the immense footballing talent we know is in this city.”

About Kaltun Abdillahi, JMU Journalism