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Cliftonville kids take part in small sided games

By Staff Reporter

CLIFTONVILLE FC were amongst a number of teams taking part in a small sided games day on Saturday where the special guests were Pat Jennings, Gerry Armstrong and Sammy McIlroy.

Small sided games comprise five, seven or nine a-side football being played at youth level and the legends are fully supportive of this initiative as it facilitates better overall player development.

The Irish FA is promoting small sided games which are a key element within the new grassroots football programme.

Former Northern Ireland, Macclesfield and Morecambe manager Sammy McIlroy commented: “We had over 100 teams taking part today so it’s great to see such a large turnout of young players all participating in and enjoying small sided games.

“This format allows children more time on the ball, increased decision-making experiences, more opportunities to score goals, improved communication skills and generally more freedom to express themselves.   This approach ensures that young players are given the best possible opportunity to develop well-rounded skills so it’s very positive for local grassroots football to see this technique being used.”

Gerry Armstrong, who is currently a Spanish football pundit and scored the famous winner against Spain at the 1982 World Cup added: “European sides, such as Spain, have been developing young players in this way for years and are now starting to reap the benefits, as highlighted by their status as European and World champions.

“Barcelona’s success in the Champions League is further evidence of the benefits of this approach and I’m delighted that the Irish FA, through its grassroots partnership with McDonald’s, will be helping young footballers develop in this way.”

Small Sided Games Centres run regionally across the North and are a key part of McDonald’s Community Partnership with the Irish FA which aims to drive grassroots football here.

Pat Jennings spearheads the Community Partnership with the Irish FA through his role as McDonald’s Head of Northern Ireland Football

“Small Sided games centres are an integral part of our Community Partnership with the Irish FA which is putting structures in place to deliver a lasting legacy for grassroots football,” he said.

“I was delighted to attend today’s event to witness firsthand the benefits small sided games deliver; the children are allowed to develop into much better all round players so hopefully through encouraging this technique we will be able to catch up with other European.”

McDonald’s Community Partnership with the Irish FA has driven grassroots football since 2002 through creating over 500 qualified coaches, providing curriculum coaching in schools, hosting a series of football festivals and providing equipment to local clubs.

A new four year programme was announced in April 2011 to deliver a lasting legacy for grassroots football across the North.

For details of your local McDonald’s Irish FA Small Sided Games Centre visit

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