The sun came out for us on Sunday as players from the Under 6s to Under 13s Development Programme met with fellow Academy teams.
Local clubs such as Blackpool FC, Carlisle United, Fleetwood Town and Preston North End were in attendance.
The day was a welcome change from their usual 11-a-side matches, as the mixed formats provide different challenges for the boys said says Youth Development Coach, Gerry McGinty.
“The thinking behind our U13 festival on Sunday was to give the players an opportunity to experience different formats to the usual 11v11,” said McGinty.
“We played 9v9 and 5v5 with different pitch sizes. This gave the players an opportunity to experience different challenges within the competitive fixtures.
“The boys have experienced these formats previously within the foundation phase, they allow the players to be more involved in the games and get more touches of the ball.”
McGinty believes that there are many benefits to smaller formats in order to bridge the gap within the youth development stages.
“I am currently conducting some research into the benefits of smaller formats being used within all age groups of the YDP,” he added.
“As soon as the boys leave the U12s age group there is an expectation that they will play 11v11, and that they are now in the adult game, I disagree.
“Another benefit is that these mixed format fixtures minimise the amount of players standing on the side lines as substitutes.
“It also provided the less physically mature players a chance to shine within the different formats.
“I would like to thank the other clubs who attended and give a special mention to the parents who travel the country each week to support the boys. We hope the players enjoyed the occasion.”