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Jun 1, 2013

FA hits back over youth policy

Football Association chairman David Bernstein has hit out at criticism levelled at England's youth development by insisting the country was on the right track.

However, FA's director of football development, Sir Trevor Brooking, has conceded the quality of England's youth coaches is not high enough.

The FA has come under attack in recent times for its plans in youth development, with Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand declaring the lack of recent success for the senior Three Lions squad was in part down to problems at the youth level.

"[In the] last 10 years when have England played consistently well? A coaching strategy for our young teams/kids needs to be implemented to see change," Ferdinand wrote on Twitter.

"In most PL teams retaining the ball is done best by foreign players in the team.... they are taught to pass to a man with a man on.

"[The] So-called 'Golden Generation' obviously wasn't because we won nothing! Great players don't always make great teams."

However, Bernstein refuted the former England internationals comments, believing the FA was hard at work building better pathways for the nation's next generation.

"Rio Ferdinand should know that we are putting a huge amount of work in to that (youth development)," he told <1>Press Association Sport.

"We are implementing a complete programme of youth development football within the leagues, with the EPPP system and with the opening of St George's Park. All those things are in hand.

"They are not producing the results yet but they will do. These things take a while as we know but these things are in place there is a huge amount of work taking place and I think potentially we are in a very decent shape.

"I am sure when he reflects on it Rio and others will appreciate that this is happening, it's not talk about what might happen. It is happening, a lot of work is going in to it and a lot of people are working very hard."

But despite Bernstein's insistence, Brooking believed that more could be done, hinting that more work needs to be done with the coaches entrusted of guiding the future of the England international squad.

And the former West Ham United midfielder has called on the Premier League clubs to offer their support.

"On the clubs we want them focusing on making the 16-year-old English players better than they have been," Brooking told Press Association Sport.

"We believe you need full-time coaches. At the moment there is an issue in that those full-time places are being offered at pretty low salaries, around 15-16 grand, and they need to be recognised for the quality and getting £40,000 to £50,000.

"In the scheme of things that's not asking too much to invest in quality coaches in those age groups so that the 16-year-olds are going to be much better than they are at the moment.

"That's going to be our next big challenge.

"The salaries are definitely too low and we need to recognise coaching in the young age groups as a proper career for a full-time role.

"In those lower age groups most of them are part time and they are not really being supported as they should be."

And Brooking said the FA should follow the example set by Germany after they overhauled their youth policy following a disastrous showing in the European Championships of 2000.

"Germany did it about 10 years ago and spent about 50million euros on it," said Brooking. "I was at a workshop last August when [Germany head coach] Joachim Low was talking about it and I said to Roy 'that's where we need to be in 10 years' time.

"We need to get 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds breaking into first teams of the Premier League.

"It has got to be on merit, I'm not one of those who believes in quotas, and until we get proper full-time coaches into those age groups we're not going to do it.

"They have actually increased the number of German players in the Bundesliga and that's because they changed the system.

"With the extra [television] money and the EPPP if we can get that change in coaches we can start to progress."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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