About the Respect League…


How we started:
When Paul Kavanagh's son, Adam, was 6 he joined his local club, Hazel Grove United. Like many Dads, Paul offered to help and got bitten by the bug. The U7s had no League, so Paul got on the phone trying to arrange some one-off friendlies. Finding that everyone was in the same boat, Paul came up with the idea of weekly Football Festivals. So, from Easter to July 2011 Paul roped in Russell Hoyte from Burnage Metro FC and Andrew McIntyre from FC Bluestar to help get 12 teams to play in 12 weekly Festivals.

The 12 Festivals were run very differently to existing Leagues. We came up with Six Principles that made our set up unique and helped the children to develop and flourish. The idea was that at the end of the 12 weeks the 12 teams would go off and join other Leagues that had some provision for U8s. But, the 12 teams liked it so much, they started to ask Paul if we could continue at U8s.

A few weeks' later, 16 teams began an U8s division and another 8 teams started an U7s. Word spread, and by the end of that first season, both divisions had 24 teams.

Just 12 months after the decision to set up a League, 74 teams lined up to kick off our second season and, a year later, that had grown to 114 teams in U7s, U8s, U9s and U10s divisions.

Why did the 12 teams grow to 114 in just two years? Because there really is nothing like our League: it's a calm, safe and fun environment in which our children can develop free from the adult pressure that other Leagues allow.

In it's very first season, the League was Commended in The FA's national Respect Awards, a real achievement. Since then the League has achieved Charter Standard status and been named by The FA as the best League in the whole county.…


We are a not-for-profit group of junior football clubs that have come together to give our children the best possible start in football. Our League is leading the way in fully implementing The FA's vision for children's football and our whole approach is more child-centred and age-appropriate than traditional Leagues. We give children the ideal environment to accelerate their learning. The FA have awarded us Charter Standard status and we've won the coveted Bronze Award as the best League in the whole county. Read more...

Format: Younger children progress through 5v5 and 7v7 to 9v9 getting many more touches of the ball.

Less shouting, more learning: The FA is clear that children's football is not entertainment for adults. The pitch is a classroom and, while parents are welcome to watch, they will be asked to step back, calm down and stop shouting instructions. Children learn by making their own mistakes, so the more adult 'help' they get the less they actually learn.

Playing to learn: Results will not be important - it will all be about learning and child development. So there are no league tables.

Why our League was set up... Traditional Leagues allow a wall of noise from spectators and a constant stream of instructions from coaches, stopping players from learning. They reduce competition by encouraging uneven, one-sided 'A' teams. Their emphasis on results causes adults to pick their 'best' team so the substitutes don't get a chance. Kids are forced to play in their 'best' position so they don't develop as footballers. Our League is the opposite: it was set up to pioneer The FA's vision for progressive junior football.

What we deliver... The FA wants all children's football to be in specially run, supervised centres like ours, rather than follow the youth and adult home-and-away model. We give your children twice as many games, 50% more touches and a safe, calm and fun learning environment rather than the barrage of adult shouting that has plagued the game in recent years.