Friday, May 11, 2007

Note to the coach

This team is an Under 12 team, 12 not 21, so I don't expect to hear comments like this:

"If we lose this game because you backs aren't doing your job the forwards and midfielders can suck back a stubbie at training on Friday while you backs do the grunt work"

at half time.

These are Unders 12's so firstly, stubbies (small bottles of beer for the uninitiated) don't even enter the equation, WTF are you doing talking to my 11 year old about drinking beer at footie training?!?

Secondly, a football game is won or lost by a team, not by three or four children. If the ball makes it as far as the backs, then the midfielders and forwards have some explaining to do too because they haven't done their job properly either.

Thirdly, if the forwards had kicked goals (worth 6 points) rather than behinds (worth 1 point) we would have come out thirty points ahead at the final whistle. So it might be a good idea to work on accuracy in kicking with the boys at training, but don't yell at them for not being accurate, just help them learn to be more accurate and encourage them for the fact that even a behind is better than no points at all.

At this stage in their sports careers the idea is to encourage, to look at the game and point out better strategies for situations that have occurred. If you have any desire to have an any way decent first grade seniors team you have to make playing football fun for those who are really keen when they are 11, if its not, they wont hang around, and that would be a huge tragedy for the club long term.

As the coach, if this team loses, it is your responsibility, because you are telling them how to play, and positioning them on the field. If you play your best back as a full forward when he has never played there before, of course he will struggle for a bit.

And lastly - rotations. I have three children, every Saturday morning I get them all out of bed early so that we can make it to the playing field half an hour before the game starts - usually on the other side of town so half an hour or more drive has to be taken into account. My whole family sacrifices other things to be at the games each Saturday, if you aren't going to give my kid fair playing time, tell me beforehand, and we wont bother making the effort to be there. Please let me know if my kid is only going to get five minutes on the field. There are a whole sixty minutes in a game, my kid deserves at least one full quarter. Five minutes is an insult given that he has never missed a training session or a game, he is always on time, and he is always willing to listen and do as you instruct.

So yes, I did talk to the club management, and yes it will impact on you. But these kids deserve better than what you gave them last week. I hope this is a wake up call for you. I admire the fact that you are willing to put the time into coaching this team, yes it is a big commitment, but it is also your responsibility to put these kids above your needs - the greatest rewards will come not in holding up a trophy at the end of the season, but from the respect, admiration and friendship you will get from these kids for having lead them respectfully through the season, for encouraging them and for believing in them.

OK end of rant, thanks for listening.


Zanna, travelling tart, back in Oz said...

Joc - what a fantastic well written post - you've hit the nail right on the head - why don't you try and have it published in a local paper (or a national for that matter). You've just put the whole case so accurately and succinctly. In fact think you should have another profession going on the side!
Thanks for sharing
Take care
Z xx

W. said...

Here here!

little things said...

We just received the speech the other day that as my 9 year old moves up to D1 soccer we can expect that he may not even play at all in some games.
Oh yes, and we will drive to a city from 1 -5 hours away, and he may possibly sit on the bench the entire time.
But the coach's sons? No, they ALWAYS play.
I can't wait until my son is a pro.

Steve said...

Ah yes...the perils of being a Coach...well said Joc, you have hit the nail on the head....but most of all, well done for standing up and saying something....

Joc said...

Zanna, thanks for the compliments on my writing, I have thought about sending a letter to the paper, but dont want to publicly declare my thoughts for fear of the consequences that may come to my son who's only wish is to continue playing with this team for the season. I dont know if he would be penalised for having a "troublemaking" mother, but its possible, and its a small place where I live, so word would get around as to who wrote the letter.

Wendy: sounds like you have witnessed similar kids sports situations :)

Its the little things: I cant believe they are so competitive in 9 years old soccer - that is appalling! The only thing I can say about our coach is that he treats his own kid the same as all of the others, they dont get a ful game either - but they are not the "star" players.

Steve: Thanks for your comment, I only wish it were not necessary to have to stand up and say something. Having said that, at least this coach is willing to put in the time to coach this team, and I dont want to make life so difficult for him that he no longers wants to do this, its a fine line.