Recently Stocholm football clubs were invited to a meeting with the Stockholm Football Association (STFF) to discuss why the Swedish national team has as few or no players at all from the Stockholm District.. This meeting was part of a thorough analysis of football in Sweden , of the obstacles and opportunities to educate and train tomorrow’s senior internationals and a recognition that before any concrete work can begin it is important to find out the facts, see the patterns and make connections. This on going analysis will also involve comparisons with other sports, countries and cities, also taking into account young people’s lifestyles and living conditions .
Some very good points that were initially discussed were
- 1. That football is more a technical than physical sport that training needs to be individualized to meet each young players maturity (physical and psychological)
- 2. An understanding of the importance of the match as a learning opportunity.
The representatives then worked in groups discussing the strengths and weaknesses that exist today in Stockholm football .What helps and what hinders the education and development of more senior internationals in the district. This lead to a summary of reflections and observations.
a. The district has a good population base..
b. The diversity of the population is large, eg 22% of residents are born outside Sweden.
c. Competition between the different clubs is also an advantage. There are many choices for the player to find “their club”.
d.The interest among Stockholm residents for football in general and youth football in particular is great.
e.The district has many educated coaches
The list of the shortcomings in the district was a little longer.
a.Access to the pitches came top of the list, which was not unexpected. We know that there are only 50 astro pitches in Stockholm .
b.Lack of proper conditions for educating players – such as lack of clean locker rooms, community centers to meet with players and parents.
c.The range of leisure activities is large in a metropolitan region, creating competition for football.
d.A risk that travel time to training is as long or longer than the training itself.
e.Results orientated stress and too much parental influence.
f.Shortsighted goals as opposed to development oriented goals.
g.Private equity investment companies contribute mainly to the decision of looking for short-term results, which means elite clubs do not dare to invest in their own young players .
SUMMARY OF NEW RULES ALREADY INTRODUCED FOR GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL IN STOCKHOLM
No poaching until 14. Clubs will no longer be able to approach and recruit players aged under 14 that are registered with other clubs.
There will be a “start guarantee” for players in matches. All players must sometimes be in the starting line-up and all substitutes must play.
There will no longer league tables for under 12s. Only when 11-a-side is played at age 13.
A new football strategy for players and parents wih the aim to introduce the zero tolerance campaign aimed at eliminating abusive language and behaviour.