The Football Association of Ireland announced on Thursday that it was seeking preliminary expressions of interest from non SSE Airtricity League clubs or entities to participate in a new National Under 17 League which has been in the pipeline for a while now.
“The new national league will start in August 2015 and is intended to strengthen the elite player pathway, complimenting the SSE Airtricity Under 19 league and revisions that have been made to the FAI Emerging Talent Programme.
“Clubs or entities who intend to express an interest should do so by registered post to the address given below before October 15, 2014, stating name, contact, and current or intended youth development structures.”
The address is as following:
National Under 17 League,
Football Association of Ireland,
National Sports Campus,
These clubs will presumably join the 19 current SSE Airtricity League clubs in the upcoming league. It is a significant development by the FAI and it shows their commitment to youth football in Ireland. The U19 league has been a great addition to the Irish footballing calendar since its inception four seasons ago and been a huge boost to the clubs involved. This league should only add to this, whilst getting young players involved in the elite Irish clubs at younger ages.
Early suggestions are that the league will follow the current U19 set-up with a regionalised format. This would ease travel costs for the clubs involved.
Former clubs that were involved in national leagues such as Tralee Dynamos, Carlow FC, Castlebar Celtic and Letterkenny Rovers are just a few names that could be involved and it would be superb to see a high take-up from non-LOI clubs. Either way, this is a positive step by the FAI and they should be commended for this project.
Thomas Stafford, Pundit Arena.