Where I coach in the UK the youth game has been put on hold – we cannot train and we cannot play matches. How long that will last for is not entirely clear but it does mean that I am putting my coaching on hold. MORE
The social club
I was in China last week and one thing I noticed was that everyone was on their mobile phone! They even walked down the street staring at their phones oblivious to all around them. But when I went to the football club they were not on their phones but were talking together. It made me realize that sports clubs are one of the few remaining areas where kids get face to face contact and interaction with each other.
And for that we should be grateful. I am amazed at the number of different backgrounds the children, parents and match day officials that I meet every week come from. Certainly my team has played clubs from the very rich end of the scale and clubs from the lower end.
But kids being kids they treat them both the same, they have none of the prejudice I feel emanating from the parents on the touchline or look on in awe at the array of Ferraris and Rolls Royces that fill the car park at one team’s ground we regularly play at.
I love the fact that these worlds all collide and they play against each other on a level playing field. They are not sitting behind a screen hitting a controller a hundred times a second, their brains are working overtime on creating space or blocking a shot.
Cycle to matches
One of my best players had to come to training and matches on his bike because his parents were not capable of taking him – his biggest fear was losing his bike or being beaten up as he cycled to and from his house. He had an irrational fear of parents shouting on the touchline and on a few occasions he did walk over to me and say he couldn’t play because the opposition parents were making comments and he felt uncomfortable.
When he eventually left my team to play for one closer to home, he only stayed with the club for a few games because he hated the aggressive win, win, win nature of the coach and his team. We welcomed him back with open arms.
One of his best friends played in the team, and his huge white Range Rover would pull up on the side of the pitch, the back door would open and out he would tumble. Always on time, though, so I wasn’t complaining!
They play side by side supporting each other in defence and encouraging each other in attack then go home, one to cook for himself the other to moan to his cook. Wonderful how these two different lives can affect each other in a team.
Society as a whole benefits from the amount of work coaches put in every week bringing together kids from all walks of life. You just have to love this thing we do!