I was watching my daughter in a netball tournament at the weekend, and just next to the netball court there was football and rugby coaching going on.
It was obviously the football I was most interested in – you can never watch coaching enough and you can often pick up a few tips of what to do, or perhaps what not to do.
Parents are watching
Let me describe the scene and see if you can guess the age of the players involved. The coach had the boys in a huddle and was talking to them as he dished out the bibs to play a game with 10 players including a keeper on each side. The coach was talking very loudly because there was a group of proud parents watching.
“You two are the strikers,” he said, “and I want you to play on the left side and you to play on the right side.”
Having sorted out the strikers, he got hold of two of the other players from each team. “Okay guys, you two are defenders and that means I don’t want to see any opposition players get behind you or between you and the goal. You on the left and you on the right. Make sure you stay on the side of the pitch I’ve told you to stay on.”
The other player on each team looked lost. “Where do we play?” they asked.
“Well,” smiled the coach, “you guys play in midfield between the defenders and the strikers!”
Do they understand you?
The coach began the game by passing the ball to the keeper on one side. The pass was a bit short and one of the strikers was bearing down on the ball. “MOVE, GOALIE, MOVE!” roared the coach. The goalie looked over and pointed to himself and said, “Me?” By this time the striker had the ball.
“STOP,” shouted the coach. “This time I want you to run and kick the ball,” he told the keeper. The striker was puzzled. “Am I not allowed to get the ball?” he asked. “Oh yes,” chuckled the coach, “but you were too quick.”
At this point, let me tell you their ages – they were four and five years old. I was amazed that the watching parents could believe this was the best way their child could play football. Where was the fun?
My attention went back to the netball where the girls were having much more fun, if the shrieks and shouts were any guide. And they were enjoying themselves while playing a game and learning all the rules of their sport. I know which of the sessions I’d rather my child played in.