National Player Pathway

As the school summer holidays begin to draw to a close for another year, a chink of light is set to appear through the clouds, as Small Sided Games Football gets set to start up again.

The Player Pathway, which has evolved to provide fun, age and stage-appropriate games, is a core component of the Scottish FA’s football development ethos. It allows young children to enjoy the game in a relaxed environment, building their love of the game and their skills in tandem. 

Developed in conjunction with the Scottish Youth FA and Scottish Women’s Football, the Pathway relies on the care and attention of parents, coaches and volunteers continuing their support by allowing young players to flourish without any external pressure. At its heart, the message, Let Them Play aims to ensure that football remains fun and enjoyable for all of Scotland’s young people.

“The Let Them Play campaign is about encouraging grassroots leaders, coaches and parents to provide an environment where young players can thrive, allowing them to play freely, make decisions, solve problems and be creative,” said Scottish FA Head of Football Development Andy Gould.

“Providing young players with an enjoyable and supportive environment allows them to take the first step on their footballing journey, with each step aiding not only their footballing progression but also their development as individuals.”

The Scottish FA, Scottish Youth FA and Scottish Women’s Football all agree that enjoyment should remain the key element of the Small Sided Games, providing and promoting a positive football culture. 

“We put the child at the heart of everything we do and small sided games focus on providing a safe space in which children feel simultanesouly respected and free to flourish and develop,” said Florence Witherow, National Secretary of the Scottish Youth FA. “The Let Them Play message highlights this culture of positivity and fun.”

“The most important element in a young player’s development is ensuring that their enjoyment of the game remains undiminished,” said Fiona McIntyre, Chief Executive of Scottish Women’s Football. 

“This starts with the grassroots leaders, coaches and parents taking a step back and allowing them to play on their own terms.” 

All of the organisations agree that football should be fun for children and would encourage all grassroots leaders, coaches and parents to support the following:

  • Make the games fun 
  • Ensure all players get equal playing time 
  • Provide opportunities for all children to participate in the sport 
  • Create a positive environment 

By nurturing the Let Them Play ethos, parents, coaches and grassroots volunteers nationwide are helping to foster a lifelong love for the sport amongst our young footballers, simply by letting the children enjoy playing football.