Grassroots can be the key to future – Roger Burden
ROGER Burden believes his inclusion on a new Football Association commission shows the importance grassroots football has to play in the future of the English game.
FA chairman Greg Dyke has formed the group to help improve the standard of the national side in the long and short term.
The eight-man panel consists of Football League chairman Greg Clarke, new Professional Footballers' Association chairman Ritchie Humphreys, Crewe Alexandra director of football Dario Gradi, ex-England boss Glenn Hoddle, former Leeds United pair Howard Wilkinson and Danny Mills, and FA vice-chairman Burden, who lives in Cheltenham.
The Gloucestershire FA chief has a long-standing passion for youth and local level football.
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"I think my presence on the commission is to represent grassroots football in the counties," Burden said.
"It's a recognition from the FA that grassroots has something to offer, with all the talent on our parks, and it's all about transferring that right through to the England team.
"I am the only one on the commission who is not involved in the professional game and I am looking forward to hearing first hand what others with tremendous experience think we can be doing better.
"I'll do some listening and then take those ideas to local clubs and counties and see what we can do."
Burden, who has been involved in local football administration since the mid-1960s, still retains a close interest in local football as president of the Cheltenham Youth League.
He was out in the rain watching a nine-a-side youth match at Lakeside School on Sunday afternoon.
"Who knows, maybe I saw a player who is going to go on to play for England at the 2022 World Cup!" he said.
"Local football is my lifeblood really and the Cheltenham Youth League for example is thriving.
"What we have to make sure is that the coaching pathways are in place to bring all the talent through and that there is nothing getting in these young boys and girls' way.
"We are well-established now and have more than 100 teams in our league and it's well-respected by the FA and growing fast.
"We just have to make sure the opportunities are there for them."
Burden will attend tonight's match between England and Poland at Wembley before an FA board meeting tomorrow, when Dyke will outline his plans for the commission.
"It is going to run into next year, but the chairman will put forward his thoughts and we will then have clear directions about the commission's plans," Burden said.