Plans to secure the future of Jewish youth football were unveiled this week with former Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth spearheading the restructured Maccabi (Southern) Primary Football League next season.
Organisers of the AJY recently announced their decision to stand down but some players from the league will join a revamped Maccabi Primary who, working alongside Maccabi GB and the UJIA, will facilitate players aged seven to 17 in a user-friendly, football for all young people in the community initiative.
The new format will allow players who are not part of a team to register and play as guests. League organisers hope that this will encourage more youngsters to join and also assist teams who occasionally find themselves short of players.
Laurence Thorne, chairman of the Maccabi Primary League, said: “Much has been made recently of the demise of Jewish youth football within our community following the AJY’s announcement. This has created a gap in the market that we and Maccabi GB aim to fill.
“We will provide a new format that will cater for all abilities as well as providing a number of benefits through the Leagues partners. I am confident that the format will attract many new clubs as well as players who have not felt confident about getting involved before.
The league plans to host matches on artificial surfaces or good quality grass pitches to maximise the enjoyment of players and supporters. Small-sided games will be a feature with seven-a-side for Under Seven’s to Under 12s aimed at benefitting player development. Older age groups, 13-17 years, will play 11-a-side.
Holdsworth, the founder of the Non League Footballers Association, will provide scouts and professional coaches along with deals on kit and equipment. As part of the initiative, The Village Hotel in Elstree will offer league players and officials preferred rates on its facilities.
Thorne said: “The official launch is not due until the end of April but one thing I can say now about this League is that everyone will want to be a part of it.”
Maccabi Primary League founder and League president, Stuart Lustigman said: “The Primary League is 21 years old and the time is right for a reconstruction to cater for the current day needs.”