Football Futures Blog

Welcome to the Football Futures Blog, where our Young Leaders can showcase the fantastic work they have been doing to give themselves a platform for opportunity.

INTRODUCTION – Norfolk FA Youth Council Chairman Ben Woodruff (Right)


This years’ Football Futures program is progressing very nicely as we come up to our first event of the year. The Youth Council members have been working hard with County FA staff to ensure that the program is a good as ever before, and I’m sure it will not disappoint!

As I write this, we have the Football Futures Referee Specific training day on Friday 20th October at Open Academy, and it’s shaping up to be a great platform of development for young referees, and will be very beneficial to aspiring officials. Plus, as always, it will be a great day seeing the other program participants.

On from this we have the FF Coach Specific training day a week later, at the same venue, on Friday 27th October which again will be really useful to the development of young coaches. I personally will be aiding this as a participant because I love the structure of development, but at the same time being able to see people you may not have seen for a while and enjoying the day.

My advice to any young leader reading this is simple: Get involved! These training days are free and so useful, so take the opportunity to develop yourself and get your name out there in Norfolk Football. This year there was an added event to the Football Futures calendar, an evening learning about the experience of two Norfolk FA Youth Council members, myself included, as we went to the National FA Leadership academy. This is also a free event and I would 100% recommend it, I can personally say it will be a great evening and you will leave more aware of the opportunities available to you throughout your journey as a young leader.


Looking back to August, we held our annual Football Futures camp at the FDC in Norwich on the 3 & 4 August. This year was the best camp yet, and it improves every year! We saw 40 young leaders arrive to be greeted by the mentors (new to this year’s camp, made up of Youth Council members) and thrown into the deep end meeting each other with some fun arrival activities to get conversations flowing.

After this we moved onto 5 leadership challenges ran by the mentors, including Jenga, The Maze, and an I’m a Celebrity style guessing game. Here the young leaders managed to work in their teams to battle for points in each challenge with all groups doing exceptionally well. Linked to this was the balloon chair challenge, where each leadership group had 10 minutes to make a balloon chair, and could perform a song and dance of the mentor’s choice for some extra time. All groups did this, and after an excellent rendition of the Cha Cha slide the balloon chairs were complete. Here it was time for the five groups to have a mentor sit on a chair each, unfortunately the one I was assigned to sit on wasn’t held together so proved quite a challenge!

After an action packed first morning the young leaders split into their specific groups, coaching or refereeing, and got the specific training started! The referees started with a workshop from Julia Rowbotham on general refereeing knowledge, and the coaches learnt about arrival activities from FA Tutor Jackie Bushel, which concluded the first day.


Onto the second day, and after some mentor energisers, the young leaders split into their specific groups again. From here the referees spent the morning working on foul recognition with David Robinson outside in match situations, while the coaches learnt about game related practices from FA Skills coach Pav.

Into the afternoon and the referees started by making short movies to show examples of how to cooperate with players and managers, with some really amazing efforts shown to the group! They then went on to do a kit workshop, followed by an Assistant Referee workshop in match situations, both delivered by Pete Venables. The coaches spent the afternoon planning and delivering coaching sessions including both an arrival activity and game related practice. Here they delivered to the rest of the coaching group, which takes a lot to do, and was done superbly. To finish camp, all of the young leaders and some parents sat for our closing ceremony, where Harry Diggens talked about his journey and explained how the young leaders can take their next steps into the Football Futures program.

Overall the Camp this year was amazing! Everyone who came both enjoyed the experience, and developed within their specific field. I look forward to seeing what next year’s camp will bring, but I can promise it will be even bigger than before.

My last plea to all young leaders is to take the opportunities given to you, even if that is the specific training days. Get yourself noticed, go far in the programme and trust me, you will get places you never imagined.  I hope all is going well for those of you actively volunteering, and if you need help along your journey just contact us:, and follow us on twitter: @NorfolkFA_FF

Good luck,


Matt Hanrahan – Norfolk FA Youth Council Deputy Chairman (Right)

In early October, I attended my first meeting at the FDC in Bowthorpe as a representative of the Norfolk FA Youth Council. The council were very welcoming, and I learnt a great deal. I am really looking forward to working with the council and the opportunity to be able to shape the future of grassroots football within Norfolk is one I will grasp with both hands! 

Since then I've attended the Football Futures (FF) Referee specific training day at
theFDC@OpenAcademy. The specific training days are a key part of the FF seasonal program, adding continuity to the skills that were developed by our young leaders at our FF Camp. The day was thoroughly enjoyable overall, as well as being well supported by Youth Council members. 

I am looking forward to attending future specific training programs held by the Football Futures, in partnership with the Norfolk FA Youth Council. 

Shannon Owen – Youth Female Participation Officer (Right)

During the summer I attended the annual FA Leadership academy, held at St Georges Park. I was one of two young leaders to attend the camp (along with Youth Council Chairman Ben Woodruff). I learnt a great deal at SGP, and I have since implemented key ideas I took away from the academy. The skills I learnt have been invaluable.

The first opportunity I had to implement the skills I learned was at FF Camp 17. I mentored a group of Young leaders across the two days at the camp, as well as delivering a SSE Wildcats session to the coaches group. 

In addition to my existing work at North Walsham, at the beginning of the season I set up an U11 Girls team - which I am running. I am continuing to train this team and I am excited for my future as the coach of this team. In order to further my development as a young coach, I have recently booked onto the FA Level 1 coaching course.

Click here to find more information about our FA Football Futures Programme!


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