Shut Up and Let the Kids Enjoy Playing the Game…
Posted by Dean Holden at January 7th, 2015
by Jamie Moore, 4 January 2015
… Without being roared at by lunatics on sideline
Bunclody at home to, Camolin Celtic schoolboy under 14 soccer; Andrew Skelly, Bunclody and Colin Burke, Camolin Celtic.
Jamie Moore reports on the blight that is threatening to ruin schoolboys football
FORGET about all the plans to restructure schoolboys football in Ireland; if we don’t put an end to the cancer that is slowly but surely eating away at the beautiful game at grassroots level, it will never improve.
We can have debates every day of the week about coaching and managing and how we can improve our players and why we are not as ‘good’ as other nations, but until we put a stop to the screaming and on the side-lines – from parents and so-called coaches – schoolboys soccer is going nowhere.
Things are getting worse, not better. Some parents and managers want to win more than the kids and they shout and roar throughout the entire game – at the referee, at their own players, at opposition players and even at the opposition side-line.
Of course, not everyone involved is guilty of this carry-on. We have some brilliant coaches in this country, who are involved in the game because they want to help young players improve and enjoy their football. And may parents want their kids to enjoy themselves and develop.
Unfortunately the people who feel they have the right to shout whatever they want at whoever they want on match days are ruining it for everyone involved – most importantly the players.
I watched an U-12 SFAI Cup match recently and, unusually, the pitch was roped off. That was a great idea and should have set the tone for what followed.
However, the ropes aside, the whole atmosphere at the game was disgraceful. It was ultra-competitive and was being led by so-called coaches and a large proportion of the parents.
There is nothing wrong with coaching young players, helping them with their positional sense maybe, but to see a skilful 11-year-old being screamed at from all angles when he is on the ball is very sad.
In one instance, a midfield player was on the ball in acres of space and was promptly assaulted with screams from the sideline telling him to run, shoot, turn and pass. So much for letting the young player learn by making his own decision.
The late, great, Noel O’Reilly once said to a parent: “Once your child comes into this park, he’s no longer your son, he’s my player.”
In other words, thanks for the support, thanks for dropping him here, there and everywhere, but please leave the coaching to us.
Parents obviously play a huge role in their children’s football, rushing from work to bring them to training or games, standing in the freezing cold watching, or sitting in the car waiting around for two hours.
But that’s what parents do. If their child was having swimming lessons or playing tennis or golf or learning Irish dancing, would they be shouting and roaring from the side? The answer is no.
So why, just because there is a score-line and a winner and a loser, do they feel the need to be so demanding on their kids playing football?
And then there’s the coaches. They can ask the parents to stay quiet only if they conduct themselves properly.
I recently saw a coach sprint on to the pitch to treat an injured player after a bad tackle. Armed with just a water bottle, he was more concerned with shouting at the other team’s coach to “f***ing control your players” when his own player was crying on the ground awaiting treatment.
And then there’s the referees. Yes, they will make bad decisions – like players and coaches do. So why are they shouted at?
I saw a parent sent from the ground recently for repeatedly abusing a referee at an U-15 game. I would love to secretly video these people and play the tape back to them. I guarantee they would be embarrassed.
Do they actually realise how ridiculous their behaviour is and what impact it has on the game and the kids?
A lot of managers are no different in terms of their behaviour towards the referee.
This is another thing that needs to change for the good of the players.
There is no point in talking about coaching, or player development, or at what age should competitive football start until the we fix the hostility problem.
I’m not asking for schoolboy matches to be played in the atmosphere of a funeral, far from it. Parents should fully support their child and the team. But the key word is ‘support’. let the coach do the coaching.
A great goal or a great save should be cheered and applauded; it’s all the other stuff that needs to be stamped out.
Children play football because they love it; let’s not make them hate it.
FIVE WAYS TO HELP SOLVE PROBLEM
1: Clubs to brief parents that they are fully welcome to support their children, applauding chances and goals and saves etc, but are not allowed to shout at the referee, players from either team, or opposition parents or coaches.
2: Only one coach from each team to speak on the sideline – and only during natural breaks in play. Encourage the players, don’t shout and scream.
3: Pitches to be roped off to keep spectators at least five metres from sidelines.
4: Respect the referee. He doesn’t tell the players or coaches how to play or coach, so why should they or the parents be allowed to tell him how to do his job? We need to take a leaf out of rugby’s book here and ban anyone from talking to or going near the ref apart from the captain.
5: Let the kids play. They will enjoy it all the more without people screaming at them and, in in order to develop, they need to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes.