LAST week's article on the calendar season raised quite a few questions locally so with this in mind I’d like to deliver some more facts around the upcoming change in season to help the local football family understand completely the transition that is forthcoming.
The calendar season is part of a player focused philosophy, meaning, it has been constructed with the players best interests in mind.
While everyone will have questions around volunteers, logistics, holidays and pitches, the primary concern for everyone involved in the game of football in Ireland must be the player.
After the calendar season change over, our local player will play in better weather conditions, on better pitches that will not be destroyed after games as in the current season, will play more frequently and have the option for a structured FAI Winter Futsal programme.
What is FAI Futsal?
Futsal is a variant of association football played on a hard court, smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors.
It can be considered a version of five-a-side football. Futsal is played between two teams of five players each, one of whom is the goalkeeper. Unlimited substitutions are permitted.
Unlike some other forms of indoor football, the game is played on a hard court surface delimited by lines.
Futsal is also played with a smaller, harder ball which creates an emphasis on improvisation, creativity, and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.
Futsal is recognised by the world's greatest players and coaches as a proven development tool for players of all ages.
Indoor halls across the city and can be utilised to provide Futsal for our players come the end of any calendar season.
The Factory Youth space in Southill has two indoor courts that can easily house eight teams for games to be played off weekly.
The bays facility in Moyross has only recently undergone a complete overhaul and along with a fantastic hall in St Nessan's school or the indoor facility in LIT, the Northside of the city could also host futsal on a weekly basis.
The University of Limerick, Mary I, the list goes on of suitable venues that can house our players development during inclement weather.
All that is required is a stepping out of “what we have always done” as if the player is at the centre of what we do, we must all offer the player a little bit more . . . football.
The DDSL, the biggest league in the country, in conjunction with the FAI in Dublin ran Winter Futsal last year and will again this year once their calendar season finishes.
This can be facilitated by the FAI locally if our volunteer coaches feel they need a break and players could register for Futsal without a club if required as it will technically be the off season.
Issues around fixtures and administration can easily be dealt with by the FAI to allow players continue with their development during poor weather conditions and not be waiting weeks for games as is currently the situation.
Once our local league is in line with the calendar season it will also provide a clearer pathway for all our players. Currently across the country National league clubs are holding trials for their u15, u17 and u19 national league teams.
In a player focused philosophy we all want our players to play the highest standard of football he or she can, which in this country is national league and international football.
All the players in the recent u15 international squad for the friendlies against Poland came from national league clubs, but if a local player wants to attend a trial for a national league club during this month and next, he is not permitted to by the local league as he is mid season and signed for the local league club.
Last season, a player left his local club mid season to play U19 league of Ireland football, obviously weakening his local team, but progressing himself as a player.
The clash with calendar season inhibited the local club and made a footballing decision more difficult for the player.
If the local league was in calendar season, all players could attend trials for League of Ireland clubs and also not be leaving the local club midseason as both would be running at the same time and in pre season at the same time.
The underage League of Ireland structure is widely accepted as being a huge success and provides our elite players with the opportunity to play against elite players in a competition structure regularly.
Prior to the national league under age structure being introduced local players played with and against players of equal standard intermittently and often only in national cup competitions and it was questioned why we were not producing international players
The introduction of the national league moves our local elite players into the correct structure for them quicker which speeds up their development to international football where possible.
Players who do not make the move to national league clubs and continue at local level find, I am sure, that they also now play in a more competitive structure and with and against players of more equal ability.
In calendar season regional leagues where the league winners and runners up at every age group in the North Munster Region play each other, could also be designed for our local player.
A competition incorporating teams from the Limerick District, County and Desmond Leagues in a competition with their Clare and North Tipperary counterparts in a champions league type competition would be beneficial to the players I am sure and again provide more football for our local club players.
It is this player, the local club player, who cannot be forgotten and left to play in terrible weather, on poor pitches and without football for between four and seven weeks at a time. It is this player that we must focus on by introducing calendar football.