In praise of parents

I was at my local club last month watching the Under 9s playing a match – I was there to support a referee coaching his first game. It was a great atmosphere for him as the coaches of both teams expressed their good wishes to him and were genuinely pleased to be able to help him out and let him get the correct number of games under his belt, which goes towards achieving his referee badges.

I was also there to see the clubhouse they have built on the back of a four year campaign to raise funds to build it – what a great club it has become, built up from a few dads getting together and finding a field they could coach in.

And here they are now with their own clubhouse supporting new coaches and referees. Sometimes I can’t believe the amount of work that goes into running a youth soccer team – you have to admire the way mums and dads go the extra mile to help their children live the dream.

Behind the scenes

We’ve all heard stories about parents shouting at referees, attacking linesmen and arguing with opposition managers and players, but no one shouts about the amount of work the majority are doing behind the scenes.

There are tens of millions of kids playing soccer across the world, so think of all the effort that is being put into the game by parents and guardians. I’m not belittling the problem of parents shouting at and attacking coaches and referees. I know the problem exists and I support all the effort that is going on to eradicate it.

Lots of work to do

However, just this once, having stood in the sunshine with an Under 9s game going on in a happy atmosphere I felt I wanted to just say well done to all the work that goes on in every aspect of the grassroots game. Teams are being formed, players registered and shirts bought, sponsorship is sought or donations won, coaches are checked and first aiders are trained.

It’s a mind-blowing amount of work that goes into grassroots soccer. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just pick 11 young players, go out, and play the game? Well, in one way, yes it would, but in another I feel the game is all the better for the rules and regulations, which after all are there for the protection of our kids.

The game relies on an army of mums and dads who won’t stop at anything to get their kids playing soccer. Moan all you like about the parents but they are the ones who keep grassroots soccer alive and well all over the world.

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