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Matt Prosser believes organised football may have to evolve to thrive
Updated 12:18pm Thursday 30th January 2014 in Sport
HEREFORSDHIRE Football Association's new football development officer recognises that the game in the county faces challenges to its traditional 11-a-side format.
Born-and-bred Herefordian Matt Prosser has seen the rise of the smaller-sided game changing the emphasis of the sport as he seeks to create opportunities for people to play the game.
"We are having to be more creative and use other forms of football - futsal is one formula that we have been able to use," said the former Holmer and Aylestone School pupil.
"The smaller-sided games seem to be more favoured at the moment so those are the sorts of areas that we are looking to develop.
"The 11-a-side game remains important but it is becoming a lot harder for people to commit to playing 11-a-side football so we have to be creative and use the smaller formats to allow people to play football - they tend to be a little more flexible than 11-a-side on a Saturday.
"Football will continue to grow but whether it is 11-a-side or smaller sided games we will have to wait and see.
"Football is a traditional game and it is a question of trying to break down those traditions and allow it to be more flexible which is a challenge that not only Herefordshire is facing but the whole country.
"It is not just our county that is suffering with the 11-a-side game it is the whole country and you see the same trends everywhere - the 11-a-side game is dropping off and the small-sided game is growing but the one thing we do not want to do is lose the 11-a-side game.
"The leagues are working hard to adapt and will hopefully come up with a way of maintaining the number of teams that we have and then we can start growing again."
As a youngster, Prosser played for Lads Club, Phoenix and Pegasus but now, after playing for Hereford Futsal Club, he has moved across to Gloucester Futsal Club where he has been playing for the last couple of years.
He finds that futsal fits in while with his other sporting expertise, squash.
"I finished playing football four or five years ago - squash took over for a while and then futsal followed on," said Prosser who continued his studies at Hereford Sixth Form College and the University of Gloucestershire.
"The two sports match each other quite well, the demands of both games fit well.
"I play squash in the Worcester League for Whitecross and in the Hereford League as well, which I enjoy. I try to play as often as I can, it's quite flexible when you can play which is good. I like to be able to go and play in the evening and not worry too much about shaping the rest of my commitments around it."
Although most of his life has been spent in Herefordshire, where his father has been a schoolteacher and his mother a police officer, he broadened his horizons during his spell at university.
"I have been to Malawi three times," he said. "The first time we travelled the length of the country and spent a week in each city delivering coaching workshops to coaches.
"In the last couple of years, we focused purely on the northern region of the country where we developed our own level one qualification for coaching, not football specific but general coaching, and some additional courses to go with that.
"I was lucky enough to be the lead on that and helped to develop four one-day courses that we delivered to coaches in Malawi. It was a really good experience and something I really enjoyed.
"It taught me to have patience, you cannot afford to be up-tight about anything when you are out there because there is a good chance that something will go wrong so I have become quite good at adapting to situations that don't go as I had planned.
"I'm also a more confident person as a result of going there, it has developed me a lot - I don't think I would be doing this job if I hadn't been there."
Now, however, he is fully focused on his role within the county and has a new project coming up.
"We are starting our own futsal league in February," he said. "It has been running as a five-a-side league up until now but it is coming in line with the futsal fives programme.
"That gets underway on February 19 at thePoint4 so we are looking for new teams for that from all over the county."
Any teams interested in taking part should contact Matt at the HFA on 01432 342179.
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