Avon Youth League - About Us - History
The Avon Youth League was formed in 1966. It has evolved through several different periods of management but remains committed to the principal that it was formed to provide youngsters from Bristol and the surrounding area with the opportunity to play competitive football to the highest standard possible.
In more recent years the league was at the forefront of the fight to protect young people from abuse in any of its forms, within youth sport in particular, and youth groups in general. The fight against undesirable individuals within youth sport and inappropriate behaviour was launched in conjunction with the Avon & Somerset Police Child Protection team. The league actively campaigned for all youth groups to operate in accordance with the principals of the force' Child-Safe initiative.
The scheme was made available by purchasing the training pack and video and adopting the principles contained therein. As a result many leagues as geographically widespread as Manchester, Sheffield, Mansfield, Luton, Oxfordshire, Litchfield, East Hants, Devon, Kent, London, Stroud, Liverpool, Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, to name but a few, introduced the Safer-Soccer scheme piloted by the Avon Youth League. Time has moved on and whilst the AYL were instrumental in putting Safeguarding Children at the forefront of sport, the FA has developed and implemented bespoke football based policies.
Bringing us up to date, the English FA has embraced the principles of Child Protection through its Safeguarding and Equality team based at the FA headquarters at Wembley in London. Every club is required to appoint a suitable Club Welfare Officer and each league a Youth League Welfare Officer. Each County FA has a County Welfare Officer and importantly every Coach who seeks to qualify from Level 1 onwards is required to attend training. The roles are different but the purpose is to seek to make 'our chosen sport' safer for the children and young people who play, train and watch the game. For more information see http://www.theFA.com/
On the football front the league had five divisions at Under 12 for the first time in season 2007-8 and four divisions from Under 13 to Under 16. It provided football for somewhere in the region of 5000 or so players each Sunday during the league season. The playing season commences in September and completes between March and April dependant on the weather. The Avon Youth League were also instrumental in the formation of the local Under 18 competition, the Bristol Combination League, and work closely with the Hanham Minor League who manage Under 10 small sided and Under 11 football in the local area and were an active member of the National Association of Youth Football Leagues before this folded.