It’s common knowledge that grassroots sport is facing a crisis in numbers like never before.
Participation numbers are down across the board and it is painfully obvious that something needs to be done now before the problem becomes even worse.
I have to take my hat off to Scarborough News Sunday League chairman Mark Plumpton, who is trying to revive the fortunes of an ailing league by expanding its borders out towards Malton and Bridlington in a bid to provide the shot in the arm it so desperately needs.
While I fear it may be too little, too late for Sunday League football, that certainly isn’t the case for the Saturday League.
Yes, there is a huge problem, highlighted by the recent resignation of division one club USB, but with a bit of proactive planning the league could still thrive.
I have seen first-hand the disappointing drop in both standards and participation numbers since making my senior football debut 13 years ago for Scalby.
If you don’t want to play football, don’t. There is no point forcing people to do something they don’t want to do, so we need to find more people who genuinely love lacing up their boots and getting stuck in every weekend.Daniel Gregory
All teams struggle to get a regular 11, even the managers of top clubs like Newlands, Edgehill, West Pier and Filey will tell you they can’t get the same team out two weeks in a row.
Players just don’t want to commit every week, and that is fine. People are busier and have more on during their weekends now.
My main argument here is that as long as there is provision for those who want to play, that is enough.
If you don’t want to play football, don’t. There is no point forcing people to do something they don’t want to do, so we need to find more people who genuinely love lacing up their boots and getting stuck in every weekend.
How do you do that? Simple. Expansion.
I think the time has come to form a North Yorkshire Super League.
By merging with the Ryedale-based Beckett League and inviting teams from elsewhere, not only will we get more teams playing every weekend, but the standard will inevitably rise and the league will get that buzz back from fresh competition.
Yes, we’ll have to travel further, but other than the financial implications, which could possibly be sorted by league subsidies, I see no reason why it shouldn’t happen.
Look at cricket, a sport that is possibly in a more rapid decline than football, but still has six divisions across the Beckett and Derwent Valley Leagues with wider borders.
It’s pretty simple, we can travel a little bit further and have more competition with new teams playing in new cups at a better overall standard, or we can continue down the slippery slope to an inevitable one-division format that would bore everyone involved in it.
I know which one I would prefer.