Conference turns spotlight on football youth development

An all-day conference exploring how to put the best interests of children first in football is being held in Worcester next month.

The Rebuilding the Belief Conference will take place at the CGM Media Centre, home of Chris Green Media, in Blackpole East on Friday, April 13, and will feature six speakers and discussions about the English football academy system.

Event host and speaker Chris Green, who is the author of the award-nominated book Every Boy’s Dream – England’s Football Future on the Line, said: “Fewer home grown players reach professional club first teams than ever and a chasm has opened up between rich and poor clubs.

“England’s elite clubs trawl for ever younger talent without tangible evidence of success and often with scant regard to the welfare, safety and psychological and social impact on children and their families.

“We all know the problems but now it’s time to talk about the solutions and adopt a fresh approach that puts the best interests of the child first, not last,” Mr Green added.

Conference speakers are: Paul Cooper of the National Children’s Football Alliance and Give Us Back Our Game, sports and exercise psychologist and former AS Monaco team psychologist Phil Johnson and Borussia Dortmund U13s coach Tim Kirk.

Also giving talks are Jameel Hadi MBE, social work lecturer at Salford University and founder of Participation Through Sport, and Robert Stephenson, founder and CEO of youth social enterprise programme Blastbeat. Mr Stephenson is currently trialing a new project, FootBeat, which aims to provide a life skills programme for academy players.

The conference runs from 10am and 4pm and tickets cost £30, which includes a buffet lunch. For more information and to book a place, call 01905 754336 or email