“Have you ever had to deal with a parent who was so aggressive you had to take him to one side and threaten to expel him and his child from your team?”
– Soccer Coach Weekly subscriber
YES! I have had to do exactly that.
Two players in my team had been winding each other up in school, and although I knew they had history, there were never any problems that spilt over into the team… until one of the dads got involved, that is.
A relatively innocuous incident in training was enough to make the whole thing explode. John and Peter (not their real names) were on opposing teams in the small-sided game we were playing. The former had already scored two great goals – much to his watching dad’s delight.
When he tried nutmegging Peter there was an untidy coming together, from which Peter emerged with the ball. “No, no, no,” shouted John’s dad, “I’m not having that! Free kick! You should be keeping your eye on this ‘problem’ “.
I reacted only by explaining it was a fair tackle. But then a similar incident followed soon afterwards, and this time it was a foul. Before I could stop play John’s dad was on the pitch pacing towards Peter. I had to intervene, calm him down and get him off the pitch. I’m not sure what would have happened had I not managed to keep John’s dad at arm’s length.
We got to the end of training with no further incidents, but when Peter’s dad came to pick him up, I told him there was friction and it would need to be sorted at some point.
As for John’s dad, under no circumstances can I accept this sort of behaviour at my coaching sessions. I told him I would ban him if it happened again. He accepted he had crossed the line and has promised to remain calm in future.
John is a great player and an asset to the club but if I did ban his dad he is likely to leave. Yet it is in the best interests of the club to reprimand a parent if something like this happens. Under no circumstances can repeated aggressive parental behaviour be overlooked; it sets a ridiculous example.
In the end, the team is more important than the individual, even when – such as in this case – you’re talking about one of your best players.
Soccer is often about making tough decisions, but the best way to avoid them is to be open and upfront, and to nip any episodes in the bud before it escalates.
It’s funny but Peter and John get on just fine – but there is still friction between the two dads.