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Thread: Irish Youth Development Structures

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    Youth Team Kiki Balboa's Avatar
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    Irish Youth Development Structures

    I hope this is the right place for this. ..... But where did it go wrong....

    I guess, like many, I am fairly devestated with the loss to Luxembourg. We were awful, and it didnt seem it was for the lack of trying. The talent just wasn't there. For me, the young players coming through won't bring us to a higher standard than we were 5 years ago (which was already low).

    While its good that we have some young players coming through, I get the feeling its youth for the sake of youth. Its not their talent that got them into the squad, rather we had no other option (Parrot and Coventry have no where near the experience to be in a competitive naional team). It feels like as every other country is making progress we are really standing still.

    Stephen Kenny staying or leaving is really a moot point. I am a big fan of Kenny, but this stick of 'developing a system' doesnt make any sense to me, because simply it doesnt really matter because the players arent here. In a similar vain, reaplacing him wont make much of a difference.

    One person who needs to be gone is Ruud Dokter. He is in the job 10 years, and every year we get less competitve. When he first started, his ideas were already antiquated. The Dutch were already moving off ideas (like tactics, methods) like his when he started with the FAI. ETP teams have not worked. While maybe the idea was okay and soon became just a clone of the old schoolboy representative system. We are a small football association, with a history of giving massive contracts for little more than part-time work. Much of the coaching staff need to be double jobbing within the FAI. Why pay Robbie Keane (who also is able to work in England) and Ruud Dokter massive wages, when their jobs should be done by one person (like in the Welsh FA).

    The only progress I see is LOI national youth leagues. Rovers, Pats and Bohs are doing great academy work. But their are issues here too. Missing U-14 and U-16 teams cause dysfunction in trying to bring through teams, and the gap between u19 to Senior is way to large. But at least this system allows for development from youth to senior football.

    I have some suggestions, 1) All LOI teams need to have profesional coaches training their youth teams. This is unfeesible for many LOI clubs, so it has to be directly funded by the FAI. The FAI has regional develpoment officers, but their roles have to change. Baiscally, the aim of getting the best youth players the best coaching as possible (in a systematic way )(or Have a national academy like Georges Park in England...)

    2) Developing 5-a side football. 5 a side is already culturally built in the country. Develop it for schoolboy football, codify it, and play leagues or blitzs in the off season, as it needs less players and less training. Baiscally a way to encourge all youth to play more football.

    3) Decrease the cost of doing badges. Run more courses. Effort into developing coaching as much as players.

    Apart from wanting to Rant, I want to know other opinions on where we are going right/wrong, and other suggestions that need to be done. I cant see us being competitive for 10 years. The FAI is on the verge of killing the game in Ireland.

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    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    Good post. Important topic too. One comment though -

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiki Balboa View Post
    1) All LOI teams need to have profesional coaches training their youth teams. This is unfeesible for many LOI clubs, so it has to be directly funded by the FAI.
    I'm always wary of blanket suggestions like this. The FAI are broke. Are professional coaches really add that much that they're essential? What about appropriately-qualified part-time or volunteer coaches?

    Also, there's only so many players the few LoI clubs can coach. The focus needs to be much broader.

    I think the issues go way beyond the LoI. Miguel Delaney's article on Irish football a few years back was fairly damning and I'd say very little has changed. The SFAI saying "What the **** would they know about Irish football?” when Ruud suggested they start bringing in continental ways of coaching. I don't think any changes to pitch size have been brought in at any level for example? There's no coherent pyramid. There's no clear path for progression. There's an absurd amount of politicking and backstabbing. The whole thing needs a root and branch reform. Starting with ****ing out anyone in the SFAI who has blocked progress in the past decade. (I know that's all very idealistic and the practicalities of it would be much more difficult of course)

    In a way, the Luxembourg defeat was good in that it got people starting to talk about the issues we're facing. Maybe it's the rock bottom moment that starts to get people noticing there's a problem. "Kenny paying the price for 'mismanagement and neglect'" was the headline on RTÉ the day after the game for example - and it's right. He is. He may also not be up to the role, but the article makes valid points that have been glossed over for too long.

    But if we fix everything overnight, then we're still looking at a ten-year wait until players start coming through under a new system. That's ten years of probably hopping between fourth and fifth seeds.

    The other thing people need to start doing is supporting the LoI. They can still support Premier League teams as well of course - but if the general public is going to ignore the LoI en masse as it currently does, then it'll have no money to develop players - and so the team will continue to struggle.

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    Youth Team Kiki Balboa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    Good post. Important topic too. One comment though -


    I'm always wary of blanket suggestions like this. The FAI are broke. Are professional coaches really add that much that they're essential? What about appropriately-qualified part-time or volunteer coaches?.
    I would take that point. I think my writing style was putting on extra emphasis for extra effect. What a mean is the FAI need to take a much greater role in developing players, and one of the ways is getting extra resources to LOI clubs and taking extra responsibility to devlop them. Its vitally important to set high standards in our youth football.

    Maybe certain clubs can be chosen for extra benefits like the Tier Academy system they have in England, where FAI can put extra resources into LOI clubs that put their own resources into their academies.
    Last edited by Kiki Balboa; 30/03/2021 at 12:20 PM. Reason: cleaned up/ less ranty

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    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiki Balboa View Post
    I would take that point. I think my writing style was putting on extra emphasis for extra effect.
    Yeah, that's fair. And I agree with your post by and large alright; I certainly wasn't trying to dismiss it by picking on one item.

    Meanwhile though, our esteemed Senators Regina Doherty and Robbie Gallagher think that the issue is one of population. We need to merge with the North as we can't compete with our small population. Tell that to Croatia. Or Luxembourg...

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    First Team lofty9's Avatar
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    Good thread. From a nordy perspective and for the benefit of my brethern developing players for their rightful switch to FAI ...

    What's a professional coach? One that gets paid over x amount? At Derry, we have mostly ex professional footballers mixed with some career coaches as I'd call them. We produced more players over the past 15 years to go to England and Scotland without these professionals. I've been told it's costing 250k to run this per year, out of our chairmans pocket. I'm not sure how other LOI clubs can manage this. Before all this, we had two proper football men who played for the club , built meaningful networks with Donegal and the surrounding areas and created an environment without kicking the grassroot clubs. Both put to pasture by McCourt and the new LOI academy structure. Finn Harps have been the benficiaries of our new professional set up as these pro's dont go watch players. At youth level in the city, we are in an unusual position in that our grassroot underage teams don't need the LOI to help develop our players, which is good for the overall picture, it helps develop other/more players. We have our Youth National League with NIBFA which players from the city play each year U12 - U18 against Linfield , Glentoran , Cliftonville etc so they don't miss out at U14 and U16. This has definitely hepled develop kids at our club who have made careers in LOI , Irish League and our latest two hopefully to break into their EPL teams.
    As Irishmen we dilute our sense of nation by depending on the English to bring us our balls

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    complete sea changes need to be made not just at a football level, but right down to a societal level.

    People don't even get how political decisions impact in the long term. For example, changing the provision of public housing from local authorities to private ownership. In just one generation, this change has increased house prices, and subsequently reduced family sizes, meaning there are less young players to choose from, because they are simply not being born.

    Then you have the "commodification of play time".. play dates for example, where two or more parents arrange a time and date, to "allow" children play together. Usually at a purpose built playground or increasingly at indoor venues like cinemas and play centres. Then keeping children apart from playing together until the following week.

    The compensation culture in schools, which have stopped children as much as running in schoolyard. Too many schools are now like prisons, where "playtime" consists of standing around talking or walking in a circle around a yard.

    How many people discuss these issues when they think about football development? Its all coaches, academies, systems, philosophies

    We're living increasingly in a country where fewer children are being born, where casual large group play is discouraged, and where those children that are born are increasingly struggling with basic motor skills of running, jumping, falling properly, leaping, climbing, side stepping

    That's the root of the problem

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    A quick example of this. This morning I was off work, so went for a walk with the other half, around a walking track in the local village.

    Smashing development just build. Has a full sized GAA pitch, full sized soccer pitch, full sized astro pitch.

    Anyway, as I'm walking around, I notice about three more couples walking, and about six kids at one of the soccer goals, taking shots. While we were there (about 40 mins), the kids ran up and down the pitch, tackled each other, generally just play acting having fun.

    But soon as one couple of women finished her walk, she headed for home, and called the children away. Problem for me was, home was the estate next door to the pitch. Literally fifty yards from the pitch to the front door. But Mammy called the kids in.. likely to sit down, watch TV, play video games whatever.

    As is any parents perogative. They need to feel their kids are safe. On the other hand, if that facility had been built 25 yrs ago, you wouldn't have been able to drag the 40-50 youngsters from the estate.

    The hurling and soccer pitches would be going full time, and we'd have been climbing over the ten foot high fence into the astro.

    When did we get so scared to play?

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    Youth Team Kiki Balboa's Avatar
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    Actually its a great time for make huge changes to the FAI, as Brexit is going to further completly change the youth development landscape.

    On a seperate, but also important note. One of things that is hurting us now is the lack of any decent English born players. Imagine if you added Grealish, Rice and Bamford to that Irish team that played vs Lux, the difference it would have made. For generations, the granny rule papered over the cracks of our broken system here, but now it seems to have run out....

    The time is now for a raft of major changes.
    Last edited by Kiki Balboa; 30/03/2021 at 1:23 PM. Reason: ..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiki Balboa View Post
    Actually its a great time for make huge changes to the FAI, as Brexit is going to further completly change the youth development landscape.

    On a seperate, but also important note. One of things that is hurting us now is the lack of any decent English born players. Imagine if you added Grealish, Rice and Bamford to that Irish team that played vs Lux, the difference it would have made. For generations, the granny rule papered over the cracks of our broken system here, but now it seems to have run out....

    The time is now for a raft of major changes.
    Someone i respect hugely said to me recently that he felt the end of the troubles and the good friday agreement has as a byproduct cost us tonnes of players, and largely eroded national identity amongst the second and third generation irish in england. as in, as long as you were persecuted in england for your name or your parents accent, there was an enforced sense of otherness and a separate identity to cling on to. thought it was an interesting idea...

    i know there are people on here who would have a far better sense than i would, but you can certainly imagine that if rice or grealish grew up in the troubles, they would have been less likely to play for england...

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    The FA are keeping a very close eye on any anglos playing for us and are quick to pounce if any of them is any good. They're almost happy for us to do their groundwork for them. I also think the Irish immigrant connection isn't as strong as it used to be. Irish pubs, Irish centres etc are all closing down. The biggest mass attendees around my way are now west African.

    I think there's something in the societal point above but the same changes have been evident everywhere and other countries have copped themselves on and built good structures and pathways.

    I think public policy in relation to sport is a key factor. Since the establishment of the State sport policy was outsourced to the GAA. Like the Church, the GAA was essentially an arm of the government.

    Any economists will recognise the term "public good". A public good is something like fresh air. You can't assign property rights to it so it won't be provided by the private sector motivated by profit. Two features that define a public good are non-excludability and non-rivalry. This means that if a good is available to one, it must be available to all, and that if a public good is consumed, its supply remains unchanged. I can buy an apple and have it myself and if I eat it it's gone. That's a private good. If there is fresh air it is available to all of us and if I breathe some in it doesn't reduce supply for others. In economics public goods are associated with "free riders", people who profit from the good's availability without paying for its use. Think of a firm polluting the air we breathe without paying a carbon tax, for example.

    What other examples of public goods are there? These can be debated but intangible things like law & order, education, healthcare, social justice, national defence, a culture of R&D are usually offered as good examples.

    For me, a successful national football team / successful national football system is a public good. A fully functional sports culture certainly is. This may draw ridicule but I really think so. My enjoyment of it is not at the expense of anyone else's enjoyment of it, we can share it. My enjoying it doesn't reduce the supply of it. The benefits are enjoyed by many. The benefits are often tangible: health & crime for example. Italia 90 had many intangible benefits such as national self-esteem and confidence to dream big on many fronts.

    Because of the free rider effect private agents won't pay for it. The returns don't accrue directly to the investor / purchaser. Therefore the effective provision of any public good must be the responsibility of the public sector and/or the voluntary sector. Now of course in football there is ample scope for private investment (or philanthropy) but on a systemic basis it can't succeed without public investment. There's already plenty of voluntary participation but that clearly isn't enough.

    There's a fine line between public sector assistance and government interference in a national association according to FIFA rules. But that's to stop dictators taking over FAs and running them by decree. In our case, an insolvent dysfunctional association could easily be rescued by the State contingent on root & branch reform, and this can easily be done at arm's length to satisfy FIFA.

    We've discussed the white water rafting debacle already. We've also discussed running tracks in Dublin (using Dublin as an example of a big population centre). Where I live in NW London there are 3 within 2 miles and I think 11 within 5 miles of where I live. One of these, a municipal track, would have almost as much spectator capacity as Santry, and is a lot more modern.

    But football's interaction with government has been pathetic. Even greyhounds get the kind of investment that would be a game changer for football. I was in the Poznan Sheraton the night we lost to Croatia, In the bar was Denis o'Brien, a few TDs, a few well-known Dublin bankers and developers, and Michael D and his wife. All there to enjoy the party but bar moral support from Michael D and financial support from O'Brien I'd say not one of them saw the big picture - that for this to be a frequent thing the game needs help, and the game can only get help if there's culture of investing in sport. But in Ireland that's the GAA's job.
    Last edited by Stuttgart88; 30/03/2021 at 2:49 PM.

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    LOI underage leagues have gone to U14, U15 U17 U 19 for this year.
    I think the plan is to maybe put in a 16s next year so that would address the continuity issue.
    I would disagree 100% with getting rid of Ruud Dokter he is only really getting to implement his ideas in the last few years as Delaney allowed the DDSL a blocking brief against starting down at u13.
    You only have to look at what the DDSL did (reverting to winter soccer) once Delaney gate started and the FAI were distracted which went 100% against the governing bodies policy.
    All the talk about FAI governance etc the dinosaurs running the DDSL (remember a few months ago they decided under 12's would be on full size pitches ) should be routed out ASAP , hopefully the new FAI board will do that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuttgart88 View Post
    The FA are keeping a very close eye on any anglos playing for us and are quick to pounce if any of them is any good. They're almost happy for us to do their groundwork for them. I also think the Irish immigrant connection isn't as strong as it used to be. Irish pubs, Irish centres etc are all closing down. The biggest mass attendees around my way are now west African.

    I think there's something in the societal point above but the same changes have been evident everywhere and other countries have copped themselves on and built good structures and pathways.

    I think public policy in relation to sport is a key factor. Since the establishment of the State sport policy was outsourced to the GAA. Like the Church, the GAA was essentially an arm of the government.

    Any economists will recognise the term "public good". A public good is something like fresh air. You can't assign property rights to it so it won't be provided by the private sector motivated by profit. Two features that define a public good are non-excludability and non-rivalry. This means that if a good is available to one, it must be available to all, and that if a public good is consumed, its supply remains unchanged. I can buy an apple and have it myself and if I eat it it's gone. That's a private good. If there is fresh air it is available to all of us and if I breathe some in it doesn't reduce supply for others. In economics public goods are associated with "free riders", people who profit from the good's availability without paying for its use. Think of a firm polluting the air we breathe without paying a carbon tax, for example.

    What other examples of public goods are there? These can be debated but intangible things like law & order, education, healthcare, social justice, national defence, a culture of R&D are usually offered as good examples.

    For me, a successful national football team / successful national football system is a public good. A fully functional sports culture certainly is. This may draw ridicule but I really think so. My enjoyment of it is not at the expense of anyone else's enjoyment of it, we can share it. My enjoying it doesn't reduce the supply of it. The benefits are enjoyed by many. The benefits are often tangible: health & crime for example. Italia 90 had many intangible benefits such as national self-esteem and confidence to dream big on many fronts.

    Because of the free rider effect private agents won't pay for it. The returns don't accrue directly to the investor / purchaser. Therefore the effective provision of any public good must be the responsibility of the public sector and/or the voluntary sector. Now of course in football there is ample scope for private investment (or philanthropy) but on a systemic basis it can't succeed without public investment. There's already plenty of voluntary participation but that clearly isn't enough.

    There's a fine line between public sector assistance and government interference in a national association according to FIFA rules. But that's to stop dictators taking over FAs and running them by decree. In our case, an insolvent dysfunctional association could easily be rescued by the State contingent on root & branch reform, and this can easily be done at arm's length to satisfy FIFA.

    We've discussed the white water rafting debacle already. We've also discussed running tracks in Dublin (using Dublin as an example of a big population centre). Where I live in NW London there are 3 within 2 miles and I think 11 within 5 miles of where I live. One of these, a municipal track, would have almost as much spectator capacity as Santry, and is a lot more modern.

    But football's interaction with government has been pathetic. Even greyhounds get the kind of investment that would be a game changer for football. I was in the Poznan Sheraton the night we lost to Croatia, In the bar was Denis o'Brien, a few TDs, a few well-known Dublin bankers and developers, and Michael D and his wife. All there to enjoy the party but bar moral support from Michael D and financial support from O'Brien I'd say not one of them saw the big picture - that for this to be a frequent thing the game needs help, and the game can only get help if there's culture of investing in sport. But in Ireland that's the GAA's job.
    Brilliant post.. great to see another economist here 😀

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    Youth Team Kiki Balboa's Avatar
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    Still in a ranting mood.......So I shall continue to vent into the ether,,,

    My gut feeling is the loss against Luxembourg will change nothing, just more talk. Who is senior team manager is an empty question at this stage. But, I would be super disapointed if Ruud Dokter is still here at the end of the year. His position is untenable if you want to signfy real change.

    The FAI need restructuring, from how schoolboys work to amateur mens leagues to LOI. FAI needs to play hardball and focus on the football side of things and get things working. Jobs need to change responsibilities. A new culture needs to delvelop, FAI men dont just have little more than part time roles. This a really important time for 'the New FAI'. It really has to be a watershed moment.

    The death of football isnt a sudden collaspe, but apathy. The FAI is very close for the sport becoming meaningless to everyone.

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    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    I don't know if criticism of Dokter is entirely fair. He's got a tough time of it if the SFAI turn around and say "WTF do the Spanish know about underage football?" I'd be looking to get rid of anyone like that first, and also anyone higher up who failed to back Dokter up - only then can Dokter be properly judged.

    Is the collapse of Irish football apathy? Probably at some level, yeah. But at a bigger level it strikes me that the problems are absolute mé féinism. Too many big fish in small ponds thinking that the Wicklow District League or the DDSL is the be all and end all. And I'd even include the LoI in that, because the change to summer soccer for the LoI alone was one of the most short-sighted decisions it's ever taken, and it all plays into the shambles we currently have. As Miguel Delaney says "A kind view would call it an Escher painting. A harsh one would call it a mess."

    I think that's worse than apathy.

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    Youth Team Kiki Balboa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapple stu View Post
    I don't know if criticism of Dokter is entirely fair. He's got a tough time of it if the SFAI turn around and say "WTF do the Spanish know about underage football?" I'd be looking to get rid of anyone like that first, and also anyone higher up who failed to back Dokter up - only then can Dokter be properly judged.
    While I dont want to scapegoat Dokter, he has had 7 years with nothing to show. With long term projects, its easy to hide. The most damming edvidence I can think of is when he came in, he wanted all Irish teams (from u16 to senior) to play one formation, a 4-3-3. After 7 years in the job, not senior national team or any league of Ireland play that formation (the senior team now play with wingbacks, as do Dundalk and Rovers). While he is probably not to blame, he has little to show working in the Irish system enviroment, and clearly doesnt have much to show for the second highest wages within the FAI.

    The mé féinism is dead right as problem. Ive been to the most bizarre meetings in Dundalk about a Louth schoolboys league (which never happened), where motions were propsed that countryside teams must play all their games in the town. But mé féinism happens for lack of leadership and direction. The old FAI worked to extract as much wealth as possible from football in Ireland, the new FAI has chance to change. It must start within itself, start getting the basics right and offer new creative ways. It has a huge voice, and can use the bully pulpit to get its house in order.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiki Balboa View Post
    After 7 years in the job, not senior national team or any league of Ireland play that formation (the senior team now play with wingbacks, as do Dundalk and Rovers).
    I don't disagree with your other points but I'm not sure where you're getting this from. Most LOI teams have played some variation of 433 for the past few years, in line with trend in the rest of Europe. Now some are following the growing trend in Europe for more flexible 343s.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiki balboa
    opening post
    Kiki, can I ask you what experience you've had with underage football in Ireland in the last 10-15 years, and of any underage football outside of Ireland?
    That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age

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    Anyone hazard a guess at the richest club in Ireland? I could hazard a guess at it, and they're based in the D4/D6 catchment area. They don't have their own pitch, clubhouse or training facilities.
    That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age

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    Have to say that sacking Dokter now sounds like a over-reaction. He was appointed seven years ago, in April 2013 - https://www.fai.ie/ireland/news/ruud...mance-director - and this is the level where each of the underage sides have been eliminated since then


    I think the U17s performance has improved, the 2020 team topped their group with a 100% record and never got to play the Elite round. It's a shame we didn't get to see more of the 2019 U17 group of players at U19 level. They had a really difficult group though - Austria, Switzerland, and Gibralatar

    The U21s are still where they've always been, but there's also been players like Bazunu, Parrott, Idah, Knight, and O'Shea getting senior caps, Ferguson playing at PL2 level at 16, Zefi linked with a move to Inter Milan, etc.

    *Elite stage cancelled due to, well, everything
    All goals, yellow and red cards tweeted in real time on twitter and facebook

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  31. #20
    Youth Team Kiki Balboa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingdom View Post
    Kiki, can I ask you what experience you've had with underage football in Ireland in the last 10-15 years, and of any underage football outside of Ireland?
    I played schoolboys football/ youth loi (but was never that good)... Then later sat on committees for a schoolboy football team in Louth. Liased with ETP teams and saw players go to LOI youth teams . Lived abroad for a couple of years now (always amazed with the facilities of schools.... Local school beside me has a full astro (which splits into smaller pitches) with a running track (although only 3 lanes), volleyball court, tennis court and basketball court).

    I didnt mean to dominate the conversation, and I was probably using to much hyperbolic language (probably towards Dokter... but I still feel he is already far outdated and has little results). Just really think there are many wrong questions being asked surronding football in Ireland.

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