At this age, children simply need to be introduced to the game and to have fun e.g. simply playing with a ball. There should be no pressure from coaches or parents to have children winning at all costs and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere should be introduced.
To highlight this, we organise a Summer Soccer School for six-year-old children and introduce them to football. We have coaches at other age groups who starts the programme off. They then try to encourage the parents of the children to come forward and start assisting at the sessions. This inevitably is how most of us start to get involved with the club.
Ages Seven and Eight
At age 7, the children play Fun Fours, a scaled-down version of the game, following SYFA guidelines and play 5 a-side at age 8. There are no leagues and all games are played in non-competitive tournament format
Ages Nine to Eleven
At age nine, we assemble the children into recognisable teams for the first time and start to play organised matches. A full scale match at age nine follows guidelines set down by the SFA and is played as a seven-a-side, on a scaled down pitch using scaled down goalposts and a size 4 football. All of our organised games are currently run under the auspices of the West of Scotland Youth Football League and Central Ayrshire Youth Football League.
Games for children aged nine through to eleven are non-competitive with no league or cup trophies at the end of the season. This takes the pressure off the children and allows them to enjoy their football without coaches or parents screaming at them to win everything in sight – we believe that at the earlier age-groups, it’s not the winning that matters, it’s the taking part and the enjoyment of just playing.
We strongly believe that if the children are taught the rudiments of the game at this early stage, as well as learning how to enjoy playing football, we can teach them to become better players. As a club, we firmly believe that we must strive to improve the coaching available to children at every age.
Ages Twelve and Beyond
At the age of twelve, the children move to a full sized pitch and play 11-a-side games, using all the Rules of Football, including all the changes that the “big game” has to endure – they are introduced gently to the Offside Rule, pass-backs to the goalkeeper etc.
It is at this stage that the example shown to players really does begin to make an impression and the club is committed to ensure that the players are being given proper guidance on all issues relating to their welfare and not just football coaching. As a club, we encourage good habits and try to show them how to look after themselves, give nutrition advice, encourage teamwork off the park as well as on, and generally assist in developing them into young adults.
We aim to have an eleven-a-side team at every age group and, from U13 level onwards, we play under the auspices of either the West of Scotland Youth League or the Central Ayrshire YFL.
We believe in equal opportunities and girls are welcome to join the club. At present, we have no separate girls’ teams but we will continue to explore the possibility of this for the future. Girls are welcome to play in any of our age groups and our Protection Policy covers their interests.
We currently have no plans to have adult teams as we are very much a Youth Football Club with ambitions to provide a good standard of coaching to Troon youngsters who want to play and enjoy football. We encourage "over-age" players to keep an involvement with the club.