WARREN BARLOW'S INSIGHT INTO JUNIOR FOOTBALL: We need to help improve grass roots football

The Bolton News: Warren Barlow Warren Barlow

AS part of a two part series Bolton Bury and District Junior Football League chairman Warren Barlow talks about what needs to improve from the bottom levels of football.

IF you read any local or national newspaper, watch any sports news bulletin or conduct a little research on the Internet or via social media and you will soon find lots of references to “the state of the grassroots game”.

Our very own MP David Crausby has tabled an early day motion in parliament about this very subject.

The sports minister has had her say, as have former football players and pundits.

I am a strong believer in actions speak louder than words and when I look around Bolton I see leagues such as the Bolton Boys Federation, Pioneer League and Bolton Combination now assigned to the history books.

I see numbers playing the adult game in particular dropping at an alarming rate, and facilities which once existed now replaced by housing. Those that do exist are either unusable due to lack of maintenance or can be used but are of a very poor standard.

So why did the leagues die? Some leagues have to blame themselves for not moving with the times and being a little more understanding with their members, but drop off of players, costs associated with the game, the burden on volunteers and the constant battle to get a season played all added to this sad state of affairs.

Key area for me was leagues inability to work with each other for the benefit of the game, as all to often they were only interested in protecting what they had.

Why the drop off? Same reasons for the death of leagues can be added to the drop off of players, with flexibility, costs, rules and facilities being the major contributors.

One example many years ago I approached an adult league to forge a partnership and pathway to which I was told that we aren't relevant to their league as we only did youth football! It didn't seen to occur to this person where the next batch of adults came from!

z Get next Tuesday’s paper about improvements that are needed in the game

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