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Junior Football needs to evolve or it will die

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Junior football, it’s dying. There I have said it. Those who say it is thriving, I have no idea where they get that notion from. Sure, some of the bigger clubs are in rude health, but how long will they want to stay tied to the Junior game?

Why should Linlithgow Rose, spend a fortune on getting licensed only to have the same say in the running of the junior game as lowly Coupar Angus?

How long will it be until they say enough is enough, why don’t we apply for the Lowland League and progress? You can see why they would and to be honest, the run in the Scottish Cup shows the riches that can be earned by having a few games in the competition, the publicity, and the bumper crowds.

So one day the Scottish FA will finally get around to saying to Junior clubs, sorry you’re not welcome anymore in our competition, what would Linlithgow do? Would they say that’s ok we are glad we have spent a fortune on our ground, and worked hard on obtaining our community club status just so as we can play in the Fife and Lothians Cup and make no money, so you can keep your big competition and all the riches that it can potentially bring.

I think not, and quite rightly they should look to improve and evolve as a club, like so many others have doing Talbot being a prime example.

I can see several Junior clubs making the jump to join the pyramid system in the next few years unless the SJFA make a move and initiate talks about joining it. There is nothing worse than hearing the term “I’m a junior man”, no, it’s football irrespective of the grade and to have over 150 clubs operating independently of the SFA is absolutely bonkers.

Attendances are down at most clubs, the term one man and his dog could have been coined for the junior game at many grounds these days. The halcyon days of bumper crowds are gone and they won’t be coming back.

There are so many options for how to spend your Saturday afternoon and for the next generation the prospect of standing freezing at a Junior football match does not seem overly appealing or on anyone’s list of things to do.

I attend matches every week, and there is a distinct lack of kids attending games and you can see why, as there is nothing for them to do. They get screamed at if they run on the pitch at half time, there are no competitions for them, nothing to entice them, and the facilities are generally poor in Junior football.

I can remember attending a game only a couple of years ago where a father asked where the toilet was for his young child. Well, there was only the one toilet and that was in the dressing room pavilion with no sink. How have we reached this stage that in the 21st century we cannot even provide toilet facilities for fans, do we tell our kids that it’s ok not to wash your hands when you go to Junior football.

The facilities at so many grounds are a disgrace with some super league grounds being incredibly run down with no hope of improvement.

Yes, junior football is cheap to attend but alas price is no longer enough as today’s public want more than just cheap entry, they want cover from the elements, decent catering facilities and the opportunity for kids to attend without breathing in enough second-hand smoke to give someone a twenty a day habit.

Attendances are down and several clubs are teetering on the brink of going out of the game. How many times per season do we see pleading on Pie and Bovril or wherever begging for committee members etc.

This season alone several clubs have went into abeyance and last year an East Super League team went out of the game mid-season. It’s only going to get worse as committee members and fans in general, grow older.

Will the next generation step up and fill the void? sadly I can’t see it as there are too many other things to be getting on with rather than volunteering to keep a junior football club alive. I’ve been part of a junior football clubs committee, and it’s a thankless task. The amount of hours you spend for little or no reward is unbelievable and I salute the hard work that people do. Sadly though, it’s no longer enough.

Sadly I can’t see it as there are too many other things to be getting on with rather than volunteering to keep a junior football club alive.

I’ve been part of a junior football club’s committee, and it’s a thankless task. The amount of hours you spend for little or no reward is unbelievable and I salute the hard work that people do. Sadly, though, it’s no longer enough.

If Junior football is to survive long term it needs to evolve dramatically. The sensible option of course, would be to fully embrace the pyramid and all clubs find their true level.

Let clubs like Pollok, Auchinleck Talbot etc find where they belong and move up and down the footballing ladder.

Many clubs are of course working towards gaining quality marks and engaging fully with their communities, this is the only way to survive long term, what with the grants and funding available for doing so.

Those who don’t want to do this will eventually go to the wall or reinvent themselves as amateur and sad as it is to see this happen to any club there are quite frankly far too many junior clubs. It is

It is testament to the endeavour of many aging hard-working committees that they have survived for so long.

I really fear for the future of junior football if changes do not happen in the next few years.

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