Football coaching should be built into primary teacher training so that staff can cultivate the next generation of star players for England, according to the Football Association.
Almost 1,000 teachers have already attended an FA course designed to help primary teachers introduce the beautiful game to their pupils. Now Roger Davies, the FA's coaching in education manager, is calling for the scheme to be incorporated into initial teacher training to support schools in developing the next generation of Premier League players.
"Teachers have a massive role to play [in supporting young footballers]," he told TES. "They're the ones who know the kids best.
"I think the skills that primary school teachers have in the classroom of getting the best out of the children, how creative they are in the classroom.if we can give them some football ideas to take into the playground and on to the school field, then they're best placed to do it.
"The Premier League is taking this very seriously. For the next generation of footballers, we'd like them to be English footballers playing in the Premier League. If we get the foundation right, then we've got a massive opportunity."
The FA Primary Teachers Award is a six-hour programme designed to help teachers deliver a key stage 1 or 2 lesson based on football.
Teachers are taught the rules of football and ways of playing the game that are suitable for young children. They learn a range of exercises for improving pupils' ball skills as well as how to run a school team, including tips on warm-ups and giving team talks.
"I really want to expand this programme into universities for the next generation of teachers," Mr Davies, a former school PE teacher, added. "The offer is there. We have staff who can deliver this qualification.
"I understand the constraints universities are under because they have to meet teaching standards. They have to do certain things to get [students] qualified.
"But we want to help build a sports programme where we use football as vehicle and a tool for part of their training.
"We're saying to the teachers, `We're going to think about your classroom skills, and think about the teaching and learning that takes place. Can we footballise it and link it into the PE curriculum?' We want to give teachers a little bit of confidence to go and deliver physical movement - games-based activities for the children."
The project has the backing of former England player Gareth Southgate, who now manages the under-21s national team. Engaging students in sport could create "better academic outcomes, not to mention a more pleasant, supportive and friendly school environment," he said.