The South Cheshire Youth League was founded by Wilf Saunders in 1978 as a non-profit making organizational. The aim of the league is to provide enjoyable football on Sunday mornings for boys and girls of mixed abilities and to ensure that whatever a players ability he is given an equal opportunity to participate in and enjoy football. The team and club structure involves parents and coaches working together and is designed to provide a setting which offers children the opportunity to play football in a supervised, safe and caring environment. The league also aims to develop qualities of sportsmanship, discipline and team spirit amongst the members and tries to ensure that enjoyment of football by the children takes priority over winning trophies. In addition to Sunday morning games teams run training sessions and social activities for all of the members. An important but unwritten aim is to encourage parents to become actively involved their children’s development in sport and to encourage their involvement within the community.
The league encourages the development of skills and works in association with the Alex Soccer Centre, Cheshire County F.A and the Sports Development Unit of Crewe & Nantwich Borough Council.. Through these institutions coaching course are available to the children and also courses are made available for managers to become qualified coaches and referees themselves. For those wishing to pursue a career in sports management advice about careers is available. For any team that needs it there is a “coach for hire” scheme available where we can put either a full qualified coach or a trainee coach into your club to help with training sessions.
The league started with children in the 9 to 15 age range and in 1990 at the request of the Crewe & District F.A set up and under 17 league to help players make the transition from the South Cheshire Youth League to open age football. With the introduction by the FA of mini soccer, the league opened up 7 a side football for the 7 to 10 year olds in 1997. This was highly successful. The league has always worked in close association with Crewe Alexandra FC and when the Alex Soccer Centre with its excellent facilities was opened in 1999, the children in the under 10’s league were transferred there. In the resent season a joint under 11’s seven a side league has been formed with the Alex Soccer Centre with some games played on grass and some on the Alex synthetic surface.
The challenge to produce enjoyable football for children of mixed abilities has not been easy. With the FA’s drive to improve the standard of football nationally it became very apparent that the league needed to provide more challenging football for the more talented players. While acknowledging this the league was equally conscious of its aims to provide enjoyable football for players of all abilities and the league had to make the change from mixed ability football to football for all. In consultation with the late Chris Walters of the Alex Soccer Centre, a new strategy was developed. The key to this was to recruit sufficient players in a one year age band to enough teams to create several “mini league”. The teams would be organized in ability bands, This would give challenging football for teams from those in the top division right through to the children in the lowest divisions. Children would be playing with players within their own ability range and hence making the games more competitive and enjoyable. It was agreed that the Alex Soccer Centre would run the Under 10’s leagues and would endeavour to recruit sufficient teams to fulfil the requirements of the South Cheshire Youth League at Under 11 and Under 12. The target is to have 30 teams in a one year age band entering the league at Under 12 level. This would allow for three divisions of 10 teams all playing in their own ability bands. The top ability division in each age band would be known as the Premier league. The first intake was planned for September 2002. Thus the future of 11 a side football in the district rests upon the intake in September. It will take four years for this to work through into the Under 18 Premier league. With this in mind the league would also like to hear from any one interested in either entering a current team or indeed starting a new team in the league at any age level. The league can offer lots of help to anyone starting a team and will assist in any way it can.
Our league led the development of youth soccer in the district for many years as it was the only provider outside the schools. The provision of synthetic pitches and small sided football at all levels has changed the situation dramatically. It is essential for the future of 11 a side football for a -coordinated approach within the district to be adopted.
The league have a new committee who are committed to making the league the best in the county.
Over the years many boys have graduated from the league into professional and semi professional football but most importantly many former members are still playing and enjoying football 30+ years on. It is the leagues ambition that its members will still be playing and enjoying football in 40 years time and thus helping them to follow a healthy life style.