YOUNG footballers in Huntingdonshire can no longer win a league or lift a cup because of new Football Association guidelines. The new season of junior football is under way, but managers of under 7 and under 8 teams in the Hunts Mini-Soccer League have be
YOUNG footballers in Huntingdonshire can no longer win a league or lift a cup because of new Football Association guidelines.
The new season of junior football is under way, but managers of under 7 and under 8 teams in the Hunts Mini-Soccer League have been told not to pass results to the press for fear of making games too competitive.
Scott Ager, who managed Priory Parkside under 9A last season, described the ruling as 'politically correct madness'.
He told The Hunts Post: "I find it bizarre. It seems to me to work against talented players, as the teams who may lose heavily are likely to be ones with players who just play for a bit of fun.
"It is very frustrating. Kids put all this effort in but there is no reward. It is also difficult for managers and parents to gauge who to play their sides against. If teams are matched up fairly I see no reason why they shouldn't publish the scores."
Mr Ager, 38, felt the wrath of the Huntingdonshire FA in May when he claimed his side had won the league - FA rules state teams at under 9 level should not be ranked in a table, though scores of individual matches can be known.
He added: "All the other managers in the league acknowledged that we had been the best team as we had won the most games.
"Football is our national sport yet there are some strange rules around it."
Andy Szczepanski, whose son plays for Brampton Spartans under 8s, said: "I understand where they are coming from but I also think there is a need for competition. It will make it more difficult for managers trying to arrange friendlies against sides of a similar standard because [without seeing results] there is no frame of reference."
Another manager wrote in his match report to The Hunts Post: "The children adore reading it [match reports] and it genuinely thrills them.
"The local press is an enormous part of the community and we hope these reports encourage these children to read - and maybe read a bit more."
Hundreds of youngsters aged seven and eight play youth football in Huntingdonshire every weekend from September through until May, with many five and six-a-side tournaments held in the summer.
The Football Association's 2008/09 handbook states: "Under 7s or under 8s are not permitted to play in leagues where results are collected or published or winner trophies are presented.
"This is deemed to be detrimental to the development of the player and the game and will not be sanctioned. To play in a KO cup game or a game where points are awarded or results collected, a player must have achieved the age of eight on or before August 31."
The website of the Hunts Mini-Soccer League lists the weekend scores for teams at older age groups, but simply states 'played' for the younger ages.
A league spokesman said they were simply following FA guidelines.
A spokesman for the national FA added: "The thought behind the guidelines is that children should be playing for enjoyment rather than having the pressure of winning. The individual matches themselves should not be uncompetitive."
The spokesman added that the guidelines could be rolled out to higher age groups.
Andy Veale, editor of The Hunts Post, said: "We are happy to keep running scores of under 7 and under 8 football matches if individual clubs provide them to us.
"We know how much young footballers enjoy reading their reports in the newspaper and we will continue to cover youth football in-depth."
*Should under 7s and under 8s be allowed to record the scores of their matches? E-mail your views to email@example.com, or contact the Huntingdonshire FA directly at firstname.lastname@example.org