I was going to write my last blog post of the year by poking a bit of fun at stereotypical coaches and parents (including myself) but decided ending the year with a bit of a review and looking forward to 2016 with a great deal of hope. My inspiration for doing this was once again reading articles from the ‘Changing the Game’ site (http://changingthegameproject.com) The book by the same name and written by John O’Sullivan is well worth a read.
So let’s have a look at 2015. I was having a conversation recently with a few friends who love the game. They were asking ‘Why do you bother when everything seems to support the current way things are?’ I had a good hard think to myself. Sometimes I wonder why myself, but it is really about trying to imbue a love of the game to as many as possible. I never played at the highest level but a decent enough level that gave me a great deal of enjoyment and challenge. I now want to give something back to a game which has given me so much. I want people to experience the great friendships that football brings. I want players to experience the highs and the lows. The cheers and the tears. But most of all I want us all to have hope. Hope that someday we will produce world class players again. Hope that we can get kids enjoying football away from the pressure of adults. Hope that someday in the future that a player actually looks back and says I want to do that!
So here as I close down 2015 with thoughts of a lot of great things which have gone on. I have met some fantastic coaches this year and corresponded with dozens more on Twitter who have provided great support and insight on the importance of development in youth football ( I would love to name you all know who you are). My own thoughts have been crystallised over the year and I thank the people who have provided feedback and support via this blog. Some of it has been truly inspiring. At my own club, we have seen a massive move forward with 280 kids playing and all our coaches now qualified across all age groups allowing better coaching and development across all teams. It has not all been motherhood and apple pie and I have had many challenges along the way. I have made many mistakes with my biggest regret in that I may have let players down by not developing them enough. I aim to address this in the New Year. I want to make it clear that this will be players that want to develop themselves as opposed to try and persuade some who think they know it. I was told at a very young age that you never stop learning in football and how true that is. It is only the best learners that have a chance.
So after looking back it is now time to look forward to 2016. Here is my wishlist:
- When I walk down the local park, games are going on with lots of kids just playing for the love of the game with no adults telling them what to do
- On the park next to it there is a large group of people of all age ranges 10-80yo just playing for the love of the game
- The penny finally drops with many GR coaches that winning is only the outcome of a process
- Winning really is not as important as adults make it out to be. Development and enjoyment are more important.
- Our aim as coaches should be develop the ‘whole’ person
- Adult ego’s are taken out and just allow the kids to play
- Lets’ get a new philosophy across GR clubs that allow freedom of expression and creative positive play
- Parents continue to provide support but stop trying to coach from the sidelines. Players need to hear from fellow players and the coach
- Kids first, adults second
- My own club develops a philosophy which runs through every age group
- We continue to get our coaches more highly qualified to coach better
- The council unlocks the gates and just allows kids to use the facilities
- We finally get a 3G pitch!
So there you have it. My hope is intact. I know it won’t change overnight but I intend doing whatever it takes to exert a positive influence. Let us all hear the sound of enjoyment at every session. Let’s feel we have made a difference to our players lives in 2016. Let’s, let’s let’s just do it.
Finally, I would love to hear your hopes for 2016?