Galway grassroot soccer clubs concerned participation rates could fall by 30 per cent

Representatives from a large number of Galway soccer club recently met to discuss the FAI’s plan to introduce a calendar year schedule under their Football Pathways Plan.

The plan would see academy and underage football fall into line with the League of Ireland’s summer season.

The clubs have major concerns for young player welfare due to the increased scheduling clashes for many players who play dual sports. This would be particularly difficult during the months of March to September with many players facing multiple games a week and burnout issues at an early age.

It is also anticipated that it would have a particular impact on young girls. Many of them have taken to playing soccer in increasing numbers in recent years. Clubs believe however, they may lose in excess of 30% of their young girls, as well as a large number of their boys, as the demands placed on them would be simply too strenuous and dangerous.

One of the FAI’s stated objectives is to increase participation in the game, but the clubs believe their concerns are not being taken seriously by the FAI. A previous proposal in recent years (2018 ) to move to summer soccer was overwhelmingly rejected by Galway clubs when put to a vote.

The current FAI proposals do not consider the concerns raised then and now by the clubs that it would lead to loss of players and a reduction in volunteers to coach grassroot players.

The clubs who are all voluntary by nature, have the simple objective of making it possible for young boys and girls to play soccer as early as possible and for as long as possible.

They are firmly of the view that the current plans being put forward by the FAI are more in keeping with the development of the professional men’s and women’s game in Ireland, rather than supporting grassroots football in Galway.

The clubs plan to again feed back the concerns of Galway grassroot soccer, but fear the FAI has itself set firm on a pathway to a summer football season.


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