Pearce backs Skills Extra
England U21s Coach launches new FA Tesco Skills Extra programme for 5 to 11 year olds
Stuart Pearce believes the new FA Tesco Skills Extra programme can help produce the right kind of players that could one day pull on the Three Lions for England.
Pearce was at St. George’s Park to help launch the latest step in The FA’s plans to develop more technically confident young players to help them both in football and in their personal lives.
FA Tesco Skills Extra is aimed at giving children aged 5 to 11 years old who are showing more potential in the game an opportunity to develop further.
Since 2007 The FA Tesco Skills programme has provided over four million places for kids in coaching sessions up and down the country. Now, the new ‘Extra’ sessions will also be hosted by each of the 26 Skills regions nationwide.
And the England Under-21s Coach was pleased to see all the youngsters having fun during practises at the launch at the new National Football Centre in Burton upon Trent
“Everyone’s enjoying it and when you usually hear voices on the training pitch that’s a reflection of how enjoyable it is. That’s the main thing that strikes you this morning,” said Pearce, who played for England 78 times.
“It’s important that we get some good coaches in place and give young people the chance to show their talent.”
FA Tesco Skills Extra will help children become better football players in line with The FA Future Game philosophy.
Focusing on children developing their ability to ‘master’ the ball’ the sessions will encourage passing, innovation, dribbling, the ability to recognise, create and exploit space when attacking and also a good understanding of the defensive side of the game.
But what sort of player does Pearce hope will come through to the international level and one day play for the Under-21s or Seniors?
“Someone who is technically proficient, someone who is professional in their outlook to the game, in all things they do,” said Pearce.
“By the time they arrive with me in the Under-21s, you want someone who is technically good, someone who has a good game understanding and realises that it’s the things you do off the pitch that influence the things you do in a match situation.”
Pete Sturgess, The FA’s National Development Coach (5-11), was alongside Pearce at the unveiling of the new scheme and explained how the governing body reached this point in its young player development.
“There has almost been a revolution in the coaching of our young players over the last three years, and it started with the launch of a new qualification – The FA Youth Awards,” he said.
“We’ve now got The FA’s blue-print for development, The Future Game document, so that’s the second ingredient.
“What we’ve tried to do is add a further ingredient by creating the right environment for kids with really skilled and experienced coaches. Now we have added a technical programme that we call Tesco Skills Extra.
“There’s a real focus on ball mastering, so we have players who have a real connection with the ball.
“That on its own is only part of the equation. We need those players who are not only good on the ball, but they also really understand the game of football.”
“All the planets are aligning that we’ve got the right kind of kids doing the right kind of technical programme with the right coach that’s going to fulfil the dreams and the visions of The Future Game.”
Sturgess continued: “The skills and the abilities that the coaches demonstrate are to really connect with the kids, to engage them in the learning, and to challenge them appropriately.
“It can be on an individual basis, so within the same session we could have some kids who are working at different levels within the same activity.
“That’s the real skill of our coaches and our programme that we want to release the individual potential of all our players.”
He added: “Any kids who come through our programme, we want them to have the right beliefs and the right morale code.
“Our programme is to try and ensure anyone who comes through it has confidence, high self-esteem, so they can take those qualities in all walks of life.”
The launch of FA Tesco Skills Extra highlights the commitment from The FA to develop more skilful players, and provide a playing pathway for those showing greater potential, who one day go on to represent the national team.