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Who are we - Origins and Development



Horsforth St Margaret’s AFC was established in 1921. A junior section had to wait another

64 years until Horsforth St Margaret’s JFC was established in 1986. In 2008 the club launched

our first all-girls team.  In 2019 the club renamed again to Horsforth St. Margaret's FC to better

reflect the varied teams we have.  The club now boasts over 75 teams and 1000 players.



We are an FA Charter Standard Club and provide football for children age 4 through to open age, which begins in our Dribblers and Wildcats sections.


We were extremely proud to be selected by West Riding County FA to host the re-launch of the FA’s Respect Campaign in recent years, a testament to the good standing and regard in which the club is held.


The biggest claim to fame the club has, is the career of Liverpool FC player James Milner, who grew up in Horsforth playing for St Margaret’s and is still involved in supporting the club today.


As we now have what is likely to one of the largest junior football clubs in the UK, our hope is that we produce several future stars of the male and female professional game.


Who are we - Philosophy


While we aim to develop strong football teams, we feel it is important to encourage good sporting behaviour regardless of the result.


We do not trial players and aim to encourage as many children as possible to take up the game, as far as coaching staff and facilities will allow.


Our aspiration is to play attractive attacking football with a strong emphasis on playing through the thirds.


Where possible all players will be given equal game time over the course of a season during the developments age and will be guaranteed at least 50% of the game time available to them.


Our players will play to win and understand the competitive nature of the game but emphasis will always be put on performance and fun rather than the result.


Who are we - Fairness to all


We  will always prioritise equal game time for all during the development age. However, as the players become older, we may attempt to ensure fairness to all by grading teams based on ability where there is more than one side in an age group. This philosophy will ensure that striving players are able to compete against the strongest teams in the county and reach their full potential, while late developers and social players will be able to develop their skills further and enjoy the sport in a less competitive environment.


As far as league restrictions allow, there will always be potential for players to move between teams as their ability and the challenge they require dictates. Availability of players and the amount of teams in an age group will dictate this grading process to some extent and where only one team exists, some players may be encouraged to play up a year occasionally to develop their skills further. Striving players may be given priority with minutes on the pitch at this time.


As a club, we would expect this grading process to begin around about the same time as teams move from 7-a-side to 9-a-side (Under 11/Under 12) or 9-a-side to 11-a-side (U13/Under 14). This grading will be at the discretion of coach and may not be applicable at all if only one team is available in the age group.


As a club we will continually monitor the development of individuals to ensure they are given the chance to move through the teams and are not confined to their original placing.


How we play - Philosophy


Horsforth St Margaret’s will aspire to play intelligent and attractive foot­ball through a combination of teamwork and individual skill. We will be comfortable on the ball and recognise when to move quickly and when to retain possession. Our players will show tactical adaptability against different opposition.


The key areas of this philosophy are:


• In Possession

• Out of Possession

• Transition

• Formations

• Tactical Adaptability

• Set Pieces


We realise the application of this philosophy will vary dependent on the age and ability of each individual team. We also understand that this philosophy should be ever-changing to suit the football landscape of the time and that the creativity and ideas of the individual coach should not be stifled.


How we play – In possession


We expect all players to be comfortable on the ball. Individuals will either maintain possession through skilful manipulation of the ball, creative passing or physical hold-up play. While we see maintaining possession as important, our emphasis should always be on moving the ball quickly where possible to create scoring opportunities and we recognise the importance of having to transition between in and out of possession at any time.


Counter Attacking - Horsforth St Margaret’s teams will look for opportunities to counter attack when the opposition is disorganised or under-loaded, whether that be from our own patient build up play or from gaining possession following an attack by the opposing team.


Retaining & Building - We will use ball retention to reserve energy during matches and to fatigue and unbalance the opposition, while all the time looking to identify and create goal scoring opportunities.


Progression & Penetration - An emphasis will always be put on playing the ball through the thirds from goalkeeper to forwards as quickly as possible. We will achieve this through a combination of forward passing and dribbling with intelligent supporting runs off the ball to create goal scoring opportunities.


Creating & Scoring - Our players are encouraged to create goal scoring opportunities via a mixture of combination play and individual skill. All outfield players will see goal scoring as part of the game and we will vary our styles of attack and finishing to avoid playing predictably.



How we play – Out of possession


Horsforth St Margaret’s teams will aim to win possession as quickly and as high up the pitch as possible. We will move and press as a team to ensure that we do not become stretched or leave ourselves vulnerable to direct attacks.


Pressing - Our players will look for pre-determined triggers to dictate when we apply high, medium or low pressure defending.


Delaying - As our attacking style of play could sometimes leave us under-loaded or vulnerable at the back, our players will recognise when to commit to high pressure defending and when to use medium or low pressure defending to delay the opposition and allow our team to reorganise.


Cover & Balance - We expect our players to be adaptable and flexible at both attacking and defending. As this philosophy allows all players to play creatively and move out of position, we will ensure that we have cover and balance by putting our emphasis on ensuring that someone is in every position, rather than the right position.


Compactness - Our teams will move forwards and backwards together at all times to ensure that on losing possession we are able to compact in an effort to deny time and space to the opposition.


Control & Restraint - Horsforth St Margaret’s players will show control and restraint when trying to win the ball so that players are not beaten easily and goals or set pieces are not conceded. Delaying the opposition to allow our own reorganisation will always be a priority but players will know when to apply critical defending to prevent goals being conceded.



How we play – Transition


All Horsforth St Margaret’s teams will recognise the importance of reacting to transition as paramount to our philosophy. When in possession our players will be prepared to reorganise as quickly as possible should we lose the ball and on gaining possession our players will instantly react to move into space in support of team-mates. The players will also recognise the difference between the ball being in transition and the ball being in our possession so that we do not leave ourselves vulnerable by spacing out too quickly. Key to successful transition will be:


Losing Possession

• Look to reorganise quickly with all players taking responsibility.

• Use verbal and visual communication to ensure team awareness.

• Prioritise gaining the right shape as opposed to the right positions.

• Win the ball back as quickly as possible.

• Apply correct method of defending based on pre-determined triggers and area of pitch.

• Do not stop trying to recover until the ball goes dead or controlled possession is gained.


Gaining Possession

• Make clever supporting runs to give forward options, create space or cover behind so that the player in possession can carry the ball forward.

• Communicate verbally and visually to give options and warn of dangers.

• Dictate the pace of the game based on the opportunities available.

• Ensure the team remains balanced in all areas of the pitch by moving in and out of different positions.



• Recognise when our team is in controlled possession.

• Recognise when our team is out of controlled possession.

• Always be prepared to transition between each phase of play at any moment and understand that this may occur repeatedly in a short space of time before controlled possession is gained or lost.


How we play – Formations


Horsforth St Margaret’s players will be expected to understand and be comfortable playing in a variety of match formations. This will vary dependent on the age and ability of each individual team and when players are at a young age priority will be put on learning the individual roles of one specific formation at a time.


We would expect all players to have experienced several different formations and have a good understanding of the individual roles within each one by the age of under 13. Our players should understand the following:


• Why particular formations are being used.

• The individual roles within each formation and that those roles may differ in each one.

• How the formation and their individual role relates to the overall game plan.

• The importance of the goalkeeper within every formation.

• A formation is a base from which to build/encourage creativity and is not so rigid that it stifles individual thought or skill.


We understand that all individuals have different motivation for playing and that some players will naturally take more interest in this part of the game than others. This may lead to some players being less aware or motivated to learn about formations, in which case an effort will be made to clarify those individuals’ role and responsibility on a match by match basis.


How we play – Tactical Adaptability


Our teams will be tactically flexible based on the opposition faced, the players available and the weather/pitch conditions on any particular day. We aim to make all of our players tactically aware, restricted only by the engagement and level of understanding of each individual. Players will be made aware of why certain tactics are being played in any particular match and will understand that tactics may change during the course of a match.


Players will be empowered to make tactical decisions before, during and after all matches. A strong emphasis will be put on team communication and positional flexibility to ensure a solid base, ahead of which the team can take creative risks to win the game.



How we play – Set pieces


We recognise the importance of set pieces from an attacking and defensive point of view and will expect our players to be aware of their role within the team when dealing with them. Our players will experience a variety of the following set pieces in training sessions and will be encouraged to be creative and take an active part in deciding how we deal with set piece situations in matches:


• Goal Kicks

• Corners

• Throw Ins

• Free Kicks from Wide Areas

• Free Kicks from Central Areas


Our players will be aware that set piece situations can lead to a change of possession and will be prepared to transition accordingly as part of their planning. Players will also be made aware of how set pieces can link tactically to the game plan dependent on the opposition, the time left in a match and the weather/pitch conditions on any particular day.


Horsforth St Margaret’s – The Player


Over the course of their time with Horsforth St Margaret’s, we would expect to see players develop in the following areas in line with the FA’s “England DNA”:




• Receiving skills

• Turning skills

• Travelling with the ball

• Passing over varying distances

• Attacking and defending skills

• Finishing skills

• Aerial ability




• Recognise and adapt to the state of the game

• Achieve winning performances by maximising strengths and exploiting weaknesses

• Understand and apply individual, unit and team roles and responsibilities

• Adopt varied playing styles and formations

• Perform effectively against varied playing styles and formations

• Deal with varied environmental condition




• Agility, balance, coordination

• Speed/Speed endurance

• Flexibility

• Power

• Strength

• Nutrition and lifestyle

• Physical resilience

• Recovery




• Behaviour

• Reflection

• Teamwork

• Relationships

• Accountability

• Responsibility

• Independence




• Confidence

• Creativity

• Concentration

• Communication

• Control

• Commitment


Coaches will support this development by ensuring training sessions are heavily focussed on game related exercises and at least 65-70% “ball-rolling” time is achieved. Furthermore, throughout a season players will be exposed to as many positions on the field as possible and guaranteed equal game time, particularly in the U7-U11 age-groups.



Horsforth St Margaret’s  - The Coach




The Horsforth St Margaret's coach will always endeavour to be:


• Positive

• Encouraging

• Supportive

• Fair

• Organised

• Punctual

• Committed to individual player development

• Open to constructive feedback from players, parents and other coaches




Sessions will usually involve players at a single age-level (or players playing up from the year below). Ideally the sessions will have no more than one coach per 10-12 players.


Weekly training sessions will be well-planned and tailored to the development needs of both team and individual. Wherever possible coaches should try and deliver theme-based blocks of training, based on the “England DNA” and the principles of play.


The sessions should provide opportunities to practice game-related situations and avoid players being stood around and in queues. Coaches should aim to have the “ball-rolling” for at least 65-70% of each session.


During the coaching sessions coaches will:


• Ask questions and discuss, rather than give answers and direct

• Allow the players to make decisions for themselves

• Adapt sessions to maximise development in line with the STEPS principle

• Use a variety of intervention styles, but try to allow activities to flow


Coaches will regularly review their sessions and adapt future training in line with learning.




Coaches will try to find a balance between engendering a competitive spirit amongst their squad, with the more important objective of developing their players.


During a game the Horsforth St Margaret’s Coach should try wherever possible to ensure players:


• Receive equal game time over the course of a season

• Play at least 50% of any given game

• Are exposed to all positions on the pitch during a season (U11 and below)

• Are given praise, encouragement and guidance

• Are allowed to make their own decisions and not bombarded with instructions

• Do not play when obviously injured

• Are not over-used and are given breaks, particularly in younger age groups


Coaches should always remember that the games are about the players and that their enjoyment is the number one objective.




Horsforth St Margaret’s coaches are keen to expand their knowledge and understanding of the game. All coaches will hold:


• The FA Level 1 certificate

• DBS clearance

• The Emergency First Aid certificate

• The Safeguarding Children certificate


These qualifications should be maintained and renewal/refresher courses attended where appropriate. It is also good practice for coaches to attend FA-run Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to continue their learning journey.


Parent helpers are welcome, but it is good practice to ensure that they hold CRB clearance and they must be supervised by an FA Level 1 qualified coach at all times.




All coaches must adhere to the FA Respect and club Code of Conduct. They will be a role model for their players and be respectful, approachable and supportive of all those they encounter in the game. The coach should also supervise the behaviour of their own players and parents, tackling any issues that arise in a sensitive and decisive manner.


How we support


Coach Support


All new coaches will be fully supported by existing coaches and the club committee on taking a new team. Mentoring from existing coaches will always be available. The club will pay for relevant training to include DBS/CRC Checks, Child Safe-guarding, First Aid and FA Level 1. Where possible the club will supply a basic training starter kit for new coaches.


• Coaches will understand their role within the team is to help players develop as footballers using the FA four corner model.

• Coaches will keep players and parents updated/informed of training and playing philosophies.

• Coaches will encourage and value player and parent ideas/support.


Player Support


We aim to create a positive and welcoming environment at training and matches where all players feel equally valued and supported. All players will respect and support each other, as well as the coach, club officials, referees and parents.


• Players will be encouraged to share ideas and opinions.

• Players will be expected to communicate their ideas and opinions in a respectful and appropriate manner.

• Players will be challenged to improve across all areas of the FA four corner model.


Parent Support


Parents will be kept up to date with training plans, coaching and playing philosophies, as well as being included in training, match days and fundraising wherever possible. Parents will be shown relevant RESPECT information and will understand that they also have an important role to play in the team.


• Parents will be encouraged to share ideas and opinions with the coach and with players when prompted, but will avoid giving instructions during matches.

• Parents will be expected to communicate positively and show support to all players.

Girls Soccer Team Practising
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