I received an email from FA chairman Greg Dyke this week saying I'd been identified as somebody the FA commission wanted to listen to. I've been invited down to Wembley to give evidence in a hearing about the future of English football.
I am delighted to be asked. I've been formulating ideas on a number of things for years; it's a really big deal to be involved.
This will be an enquiry into the failures of English football. Anybody can email or write to the FA and it will all be collated. Supporters are being asked to get actively involved in the process.
So what comes next? What needs to change? Here are my key points.
Greater emphasis on technique
Last week I wrote about the virtues of futsal. It turns out it's really taking off in England, and I can't believe how many individual teams and associations have already sprung up. They need to be embraced. The more small-sided games, with an emphasis on skill and quick-thinking, the better.
Overhaul coaching badges
A huge area that needs attention is coaching badges and how expensive they are to get in England. I've spoken to a lot of English-based coaches, and too many are telling me that they are going to Belfast, Dublin or Wales to get qualified—because it's quicker and it costs less.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas took his in Scotland, for example. What kind of message does that send?
The FA provide subsidies, but I believe the level 1 coaching badge should be completely free (it comes in at around £150). It's a basic requirement for parents and volunteers, and we should be encouraging as many as possible to get involved.
The Level 2 badge should be subsidised 50 percent, or free if you complete it and enroll in a UEFA B course afterwards. That would provide an incentive to get coaches on the ladder, and you'd see a lot more people signing up for it.
Get PE teachers educated
On a similar theme, every PE teacher in England should have their Level 1 and 2 badges paid for by the FA. Football is a game we invented; we need teachers to be motivated and we need to do everything possible to bring through the next generation.
Shake up the FA Council
The FA Council has about 100 members (see the official list here), many of whom are relics from 150 years ago. Certain areas are overrepresented. We need to look at who should really be on it.
I think English football needs 10 state-of-the-art regional centres. These should be located based on geography, but also on where the bulk of the talent comes from—the northwest, London, the midlands, the southwest.
We should not worry about being too egalitarian.
Create an identity at St. George's Park
We should make England the hub of world coaching, and St. George's Park is a great place to start. People like Alan Shearer, Michael Owen and Co. should be around the place all the time to give it a real identity.
That's it for now. As you can tell, I'm very much looking forward to presenting my ideas. I urge everybody and anybody to give their evidence to the FA.
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