Cambridgeshire FA CEO, Chris Pringle, shares his thoughts on the big stories in football
This week features the snowy weather, our local veteran International John Shannon and (of course) VAR
Snow stops play
It’s that time of year again when anyone involved in traditional ‘winter’ sports starts to pay even closer attention to the weather to see how schedules can be followed or adjusted to complete league programmes and cup competitions.
As seasons go this one was proving wet, and wet enough to cause many fixtures in December and January to be postponed. I’ve seen many comments on Twitter where teams have bemoaned their luck in getting games played, stating perhaps no game for several weeks for their players.
So in what has already been a challenging season, it’s now March and the snow is here, meaning that for us in the East of England there is little likelihood of many (if any) games being played this weekend.
If pro level games are being called off there is little chance for us at grassroots. It’s really not helping us as we know that participation in sport, and football is no exception, is habitual. What I mean by that is that regular (similar time, similar place) activities delivering positive outcomes need to become habits to ensure continued over time. Playing 1 game of football in perhaps 6 weeks works the opposite way.
So what to do? We know there needs to be more 3G pitches, but there expensive and won’t work for everyone. I was surprised recently to see a survey that showed a high percentage of football is played indoors, so maybe that is part of the answer. If we’re agile enough maybe we can use the amazing insights that weather forecasters now provide in predicting these spells of bad weather to look at planning alternative provision through our leagues.
It can’t be enough just to repeat the cycle of postponing game after game and then shoe-horning in the Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday to disturb everyone’s best habits?
Proud Dad watches Veteran son pull on England shirt
There was a great story this week with a Cambridgeshire link, when The Sun published the achievements of local footballer John Shannon and his proud father. This might not seem unusual, as many players are brilliantly supported by loyal parents. What’s different about the Shannon family is that John Jnr is well into his 70’s, and his Dad John Snr is 100!
John Jnr plays in our Cambs FA Flexi League for Veterans, and he’s a great advocate for the game as well as keeping us on our toes to ensure that this growing part of the game is one which we continue to focus on. As well as the flexible format, we also run a more formal league for older players. It will always be difficult to match up ages and abilities given such wide ranges in age, however we are seeing more players over 50 every Thursday at our Bottisham 3G centre.
Those over 50s have a long way to go before they catch up with John Jnr, who we hope will be supported for many more years by John Snr!
It’s not been used that often, but when it has, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system has brought controversy. This week’s FA Cup Replay between Spurs and Rochdale was no exception:
I thought that Mauricio Pochettino’s post-match interview was insightful as he spoke about Premier League referees being the best in Europe, which in itself if something that we should all listen to. He then spoke about VAR and how this is not helping the referees. The evidence so far seems to support his view. It would be good to hear from the match officials using it.
If the system is not yet right, I really hope that the roll out is adjusted to improve the experience for all involved, not least the fans.
Until next time.