Youth football ID card blow

YOUNG footballers will have to arm themselves with ID cards next season – to prove their age and eligibility to play.

YOUNG footballers will have to arm themselves with ID cards next season - to prove their age and eligibility to play.

The new ruling kicks off on September 1 and means that youngsters wanting to play in Devon County Football Association affiliated matches must buy - and carry - an ID card costing £4.50.

The ruling - which applies to all age groups and is being operated in other counties - says that youngsters from the age of eight must have a card which has to be available to the opposition coach or match referee in the event of someone questioning a player's age.

It's another 'blow' to the local youth football scene, already reeling from the news that the FA has 'outlawed' competitive football for the under-eight age group and below, and last week's news that Exeter City were banning their academy boys from playing in their local teams under Football League rules.

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Not everybody is happy with the ID cards, some feeling it is an infringement of civil liberties, others asking that if it's got to be an ID card to play football, what next? Some people are concerned as to just who will have access to the information.

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Andy Griffiths, of Sidmouth Town, says: "Apart from the obvious that it's a lot of administration work taken up arranging photos and getting more forms completed, I do feel, accepting the wis dom from the FA, that it is a necessary exercise.

"I have to say I have not, in the last three years, thought that we had a player ID problem in our league, nor has there been too much, if any, protest regarding ineligible players, so is this a sledge hammer to crack a nut?" Jon Miller, a coach of one of the many Sidmouth Town junior sides, said: "I worry about the added work load, especially when we are looking to introduce the game to new players. It will mean them having to wait until they are in posession of an ID card Is it really that important in mini soccer friendly foot ball?"

Julie Logan, of Honiton Town Youth, said: "I fail to see why ID cards are needed in mini-soccer, especially when it appears that the long term aim of the FA is to make all mini-soccer non-competitive.

"Why cheat and play an older player in youth football - what are you achieving?

"But I know people do and so the plus side of this is that particular practice will cease, but then there is also the view that cards will inevitably become 'lost'.

"After all, with youth football, one of the biggest problems is youngsters forgetting boots, or shin pads, so what happens when an ID card is forgotten? That would leave a very disappointed youngster not being able to play football that day.

"If it is 'no card, no play', then I foresee many disappointed children weekend after weekend and that begs the question, 'what are we here for, to enforce rules or to give the kids some football?' I know what I think we should be focusing on."

Nigel Doe, who will coach the Honiton Under 11s next season in the Exeter & District Youth League, said: "It does strike me that this may well bring even greater problems to those who seek to run football teams for the youngsters.

"Imagine having to tell one or more youngsters that they cannot play because their ID card is not with them."

There are 172 teams set to play in the Exeter and District Youth League next season.

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