For the past 18 months, I have been attending a local leagues central venue for small sided football, each week coming away and having the feeling of disappointment and regret that I hadn’t stopped 6, 7 and 8 year old boys and girls being verbally abused by adults.
Due to the Christmas break and a trip to the NSCAA convention in America, last Saturday was my first outing of 2012 to support our two u8 grassroots teams. (KG Note: Jamie submitted this post February 8, 2012). I got there as games were already underway and got the feeling something was different — there was no noise, just the odd shout from enthusiastic coaches. I stood back and realised why — the games were taking place at a new venue due to the winter conditions — a brand new 3G pitch which was caged, parents not allowed inside, only the players and their coaches! If this has been enforced by the league then it is genius; no parents encroaching the playing area, no parents screaming and shouting. The result was 7/8 year old players enjoying their football, trying tricks and making hundreds of unchallenged decisions (apart from the odd critical coach).
For once, I came away having enjoyed the football first and foremost, not pulling my hair out and moaning to my missus about the way a parent screamed at a child for making a mistake.
This got me thinking — surely we shouldn’t have to put the players in a cage, locking parents out to allow youngsters to enjoy their game?
When you do your English FA level 1 & 2 coaching qualifications, you are given the necessary skills/tools to deliver fun and educational coaching sessions. Whose role is it to educate parents? Of course there are some very positive and supportive parents out there but for those parents who continue to shout, give negative feedback and constantly criticise, how can we educate them?
I don’t have the answer yet and I realise not every negative parent sees their short falls, but when you next coach your side take a minute to observe your parents and think — how can I effect their behavior on match days?
Jamie Wright is currently the Head of Football Development at SAFC Foundation (official charity of EPL team Sunderland AFC), where he writes new coaching delivery programs as well as develops and writes a coaching education program. His roles with this club over the last 10 years have also included Disability Coordinator and Project Manager at an outreach center. He has also worked at the Club’s Academy for 9 years specializing in working with the U-7 to U-10 age groups. SAFC Foundation recently attended the 2012 NSCAA Convention and are available to hold player development or coach development camps and are interested in developing links with partner clubs or organizations in the US. For more information, get in touch with Jamie at [email protected] .