THE WEEKLY DEBATE: Do coaches get the credit they deserve

THIS WEEK’S DEBATE: Coaching can be a huge commitment that many in youth soccer have to fit in alongside their own day jobs and parental responsibilities. But is it a thankless task? And should coaches get more credit for the work that they do?



Neil Smith

Queensland Saints

“The true value of coaches is starting to be realised. A coach is no longer just ‘someone’s dad’ – he’s actually someone who can really help kids”

“I think there is growing recognition that coaches have a real influence over the lives of the kids they work with – and not just in terms of their soccer. I think the true value of coaches is starting to be realised. A coach is no longer just ‘someone’s dad’ – he’s actually someone who can really help kids.

Sometimes the credit comes in the smallest packages. I think coaches accept they’re not going to get a standing ovation from players but if the credit is packaged as a ‘thank you coach’ gesture by kids, and maybe the same from parents, then it does feel as if it is all for a reason.

I’ve found that those coaches who don’t feel appreciated are usually those who insist on ploughing a lone furrow through their soccer coaching. It can certainly be a lonely existence, unrewarding even, when a coach tries to do it all alone. Coaches need to involve parents and other volunteers, and must build rapport with peers. They need a sounding board for problems as well as a way to have their efforts recognised. When others in similar positions recognise that effort, it all becomes worthwhile.

I think too that coaching is a rather one-way job. I’d rather forfeit the credit myself if it meant the kids were receiving the plaudits – that’s where the credit needs to go, and we do indirectly feed off of that. It’s a bit like an anonymous benefactor for a local charity. Many of us don’t need the adulation – it’s enough just to watch the kids enjoying themselves.”


Nic Sheppard

Forest Youth 

“Coaches are seen in a similar way to referees. They are anonymous when they do well but they are criticised and ready to be strung up when something goes wrong!”

“I think any coach looking to get into youth soccer for respect and recognition should probably look elsewhere. It is often a thankless task, involving late nights, early mornings, paperwork, anonymous parents, and management of kids whose attitude can vary from wildly enthusiastic to largely passive!

I often think coaches are seen in a similar way to referees – anonymous when they do well, criticised and ready to be strung up when something goes wrong! I also believe parents sometimes think their children develop irrespective of our efforts, not because of us!

I’ve known coaches who have left the sport because, despite spending time around kids each week, they’ve actually found the whole experience quite lonely. Coaches only really mingle with their peers before or after matches or at events, and the social aspect of the sport is very different at the coaching level than it is for the kids themselves.

There’s also a lot of stress involved in coaching too. As coaches, we invest an incredible amount of time and effort in the children, and care passionately. For some it’s results, for others it’s seeing kids develop and grow, but either way it’s a job that doesn’t just end on the training pitch.

I’m not saying that coaches need a pat on the back at every turn, but in a world of documents and directives and administration, it would definitely be quite nice to receive something back.”


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