Underage leagues may switch to summer season

Summer soccer may well become the norm in Ireland as the FAI are proposing to switch all underage leagues from the traditional season in 2016.

Underage leagues may switch to summer season

At present, all but one of the 32 schoolboys leagues in Ireland — representing 100,000 players from 6-16 years of age — operate the traditional season from September to May.

Yet, under the association’s upcoming Technical Development Plan, the proposed concept is to have a uniform campaign from March until November, mirroring that of the League of Ireland.

This adjustment is the eye-catching recommendation from a series of reforms made by the FAI’s Technical Committee.

Led by High Performance Director Ruud Dokter, it consisted of three representatives each from the Schoolboys FAI (SFAI) and FAI Schools (FAIS) and they met several times over the past year.

They were tasked with formulating a blueprint to modernise the long outdated system of youth development, one which has culminated in a paucity of emerging players challenging for Martin O’Neill’s senior Republic of Ireland squad.

On Monday, chief executive John Delaney led an FAI delegation that gave a presentation on the proposals to the executive committee of the SFAI (SFAI).

Legislators from the 32 leagues under the auspices of the SFAI are to be given a similar briefing during a four-part nationwide roadshow from January 27 to February 2.

How the switch of season, which clashes directly with the GAA juvenile calendar, is received by leagues and clubs remains to be seen. Already, multi-talented elite teens are under pressure to concentrate on one sport over another.

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