Norwich Sunday League loses teams but future looks bright with planned under-19 development league

The secretary of the Norwich Sunday League insists the organisation's future is in good health – even though it been forced to scrap a division.

The Evening News and Copy I.T backed grassroots football set-up has lost 10 teams and will run eight divisions rather than nine next season. However, the planned formation of an under-19 development league is giving Ben Casey hope that a pathway for the next generation of players is being created.

He said: 'I'm hoping it bridges the gap between youth football and men's football. It's a big step up for some to go straight into the adult game.

'We've got to keep people involved in football rather than them drifting away. The plan is that teams will eventually progress from that league into the adult league, while under-16 teams will move up to the development league. It's quite an exciting initiative from Norfolk FA and if it comes off it will be good for football in Norfolk.'

More than 2,000 players will sign up for the 94 sides who have currently registered for the adult league while 10 have expressed an interest in joining the new development scheme – which would run under the Norwich League's umbrella. The sides, which can contain three over-age players, have until June 30 to commit to next season.

Casey added: 'We're disappointed to have lost adult sides, we're not the only league suffering, but people's lifestyles have changed. We're still one of the biggest Sunday league set-ups in the country. We're proud of our league.'