About Little League Football
Little League Football is a registered charity that provides free football for children up to about 13 years old that would not otherwise play regularly for their schools or other organisations. A strong community involvement is a key feature. The emphasis is on mass participation rather than elitism, enthusiasm and endeavour rather than ability. Players are encouraged to develop team spirit, self discipline and sportsmanship.
Since inception in 1968, formation of new leagues has continued and now number more than 30, evidence that there is a demand for this unique concept of youth football. Further expansion is an ongoing objective.
ORGANISATION AND FINANCE
Little League Football is 'governed' by a National Executive Committee consisting of a number of unpaid volunteers elected by the member leagues at the national A.G.M. A Management Committee of a similar structure runs each league. In addition, all the team managers, assistants and other volunteers are jointly responsible for the running of the organisation, including fund raising.
The welfare and protection of each child is paramount and new volunteers are screened in accordance with F.A. and National Little League guidelines.
No charges are made for playing, as Little League does not wish to turn away any child whose parents are unable or unwilling to pay subscriptions. However, parents are invited to become members at a nominal fee decided by each league, although their child will be treated exactly the same whether or not a contribution is made.
The costs of providing football for a minimum of 6 teams (84 players), or many more in the case of most leagues, are considerable with expenditure running up to several thousand pounds each season. Local companies and individuals sponsor teams and other aspects and the Committee raises the balance of income required in a variety of ways, such as refreshment sales, socials, lotteries etc. Personal Accident and Public Liability insurance cover each league, its officials and players.
Most leagues have six teams, although such is the demand for places, many have expanded and run Junior/Reserve teams as well. The majority of leagues have traditionally only provided for boys' football, but some now also run separate girls' teams.
Trials are held each year for children wanting to join their local league, and leagues generally only accommodate children from their immediate catchment area. Children are selected or placed in teams in the various sections of the league structure whichever section is judged appropriate to their age and perceived ability. They are subjectively assessed by managers and chosen in turn to ensure as far as is reasonable that teams are equal and that every child can play with and compete against others of a similar age and ability.
Generally, each Senior team comprises a mixture of the older players within a two year age spread in squads of 14 players. Junior/Reserve teams will operate similarly, although the age mix will vary from league to league. All players under 10 years of age play small sided football under 'Mini Soccer' rules as required by the Football Association.
Once selected, players are offered continuity in the League until they retire, either with the original team for whom they were chosen or that to which they have been promoted. Promotion occurs if players leave the Senior teams during the season and managers select replacements from Junior / Reserve teams. Players may not be replaced through lack of ability and uniquely substitutions are compulsory at half time in every match, which guarantees all players at least half a game. Team managers will advise players if / when training sessions will be held and players are expected to attend.
Details of any child's medical problems should be advised to the manager or the League Secretary. The majority of leagues have people qualified to administer basic first aid and will take appropriate action in the event of injury.
PITCHES, EQUIPMENT & KIT
The pitches, goals and footballs are scaled down in size to allow for physical capabilities, with pitches roped off to help the referees and their assistants and to prevent spectators encroaching.
Football kit - shirt, shorts and socks - is loaned free of charge, but players must provide their boots and shin guards. Some leagues organise a 'boot pool' where good pairs of boots may be obtained for free or at a minimal charge. Parents are requested to take good care of their child's kit and to ensure it is only worn at Little League matches.
Matches are normally held every Saturday morning of the season and are of a duration of 25 minutes each way, although Mini Soccer games are usually shorter. If there are six teams in a league, the three matches kick off at 9.30, 10.30 and 11.30 am on the same pitch and thus all games are at 'home'.
Some leagues also operate an informal 'turn up and play' system for younger children with no formal teams. Players are expected to arrive half an hour before their game and should advise their manager, at the latest the night before, if they are unable to play for any reason.
Although the philosophy of Little League Football is friendship and participation rather than winning, good competition exists. Fixtures are devised to ensure that all teams maintain an interest in the Championship for as long as possible, with the league leaders of the first ten games meeting the team which does best in the second ten games in a play-off for the overall title.
In addition, most leagues also have a cup competition and some, a 5 or 6 a side tournament. All leagues can also enter the National Tournament, a competition between league representative sides.
Referees are usually fully qualified and receive no payment for officiating. It cannot be emphasised too strongly that players, parents and supporters should accept referees' decision without comment and not make any remark that may undermine their authority.
Mementoes are usually awarded to the finalists in each competition, but not for individual achievements such as 'top goal scorer'. Football is a team game, and Little League does not recognise one player's ability above less skilled team mates.
All players are awarded a certificate when they leave the league on reaching the maximum age.
FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION & SCHOOLS FOOTBALL
Each league is affiliated to the local County Youth Football Association. If a player is chosen to participate in school activities on a Saturday morning, these take priority over Little League.
Parents are encouraged to support their son / daughter by watching his / her team at every match where possible - Little League does not double as a child minding service! All leagues need help from parents with fund-raising, refreshments, refereeing, committee work or just lending a hand putting up and taking down equipment - don't hesitate to ask.
SO YOU WANT TO HELP LITTLE LEAGUE?
As you will have noted, Little League Football has a considerable part to play in the local community and by becoming a volunteer helper you can do a worthwhile job in the community. Age is immaterial - young or not so young, your efforts will be well rewarded and you will gain real pleasure from seeing children enjoying their football to the full. At the same time, you will have fun, make new friends and broaden your horizons.
Want to know more? Below are some typical 'job descriptions' although some tasks listed will vary from league to league. Dependant on vacancies, you can choose the position you would like to fill.
- Chairperson - Conduct of meetings, public relations, trouble shooter / peacemaker
- Secretary - Arrange meetings, take minutes, correspondence, organise trials
- Treasurer - Keep financial records, pay bills and incoming funds into bank accounts
- Team Manger - Attend training course, run team on match days, look after welfare of players
- In addition, all members of the Committee are expected to assist with various tasks that are not a particular person's job or where the task is better shared e.g. erecting / dismantling equipment, organising socials, 5 a side tournaments etc.
Hopefully now you are hooked! For more information on volunteering, please click here.
To find details of our local leagues, please click here.