MOVES are afoot to establish a new U11s junior football division in Tynedale for next season.

At present, youngsters can play in the Tynedale Mini Soccer League in various age categories to U10 level.

But local referee and coach David McMillan has expressed fears over a lack of competitive options for junior players over the age of 10.

Now he has approached the mini soccer league with a view to adding a new U11 division.

He said: “The Tynedale Mini Soccer League is wonderful for young footballers, giving them opportunities from U7 level upwards.

“But there’s nothing after the age of 10, and we lose a lot of young players and teams to other areas.

“They travel to join leagues in Newcastle, Gateshead and Durham, which is a long way to travel.

“I want to try and keep our young footballers local, and an U11 league would be a good way to retain last season’s U10 teams.”

Mr McMillan, who coaches the Stocksfield Vipers team, said he hoped to recruit between 12 and 16 teams for the new U11 division.

“I’ve got 11 teams interested so far,” he said.

“I will be updating the Tynedale Mini Soccer League further at its forthcoming annual general meeting.

“The league has been very supportive so far, and it would be great if we could get this up and running for next season.”

Mr McMillan wants the new division to adopt a system aimed at keeping matches competitive.

The nine-a-side matches would be played on 80 x 50 yard pitches, with teams allowed to introduce an extra player if they are losing by three goals, and a second additional player at five goals down.

Mr McMillan added: “It’s about balancing things up for teams who are up against particularly strong opponents.

“At 3-0, a player can come on, but if the score becomes 3-1, the extra player, or another player, would have to go off.”