One season ends and another starts

It’s been a while since I blogged but it’s not for the lack of football-related action in my world. Our under 7s have now finished their season and on Wednesday we had our final training session ahead of a 5 week summer break which will allow both the players, the parents and the coaching staff a well earned break!

However, as that season ends a new one starts for our adult side. We’ve moved across from being a Sunday pub-side to a Saturday side, and therefore will be taking our football more seriously and organising our club in a different way. My involvement in our new adult side will be on three fronts as I’ll be playing, helping our manager with training and I’m also our club secretary so it’s going to be a busy season next season as I balance my commitments to both the adult side and our (soon to be) u8s.

The season I’ve spent with our under 7s has been great fun, my first as a coach at youth (or any) level. I still look back to my first session where I can vividly remember wondering what I’d let myself in for as I failed to control a group of hyper 6 and 7 year olds! Fast forward 11 months and I’m part of the furniture, the kids know me, I know them and I’d like to think both have progressed! For the players, I think starting to play matches regularly toward the end of the season was the biggest factor in their improvement, it also helped us as coaches get a better idea of their development or coaching needs.

Next season with the under 8s we take part in a non-competitive fixture list and will play 2-3 times per month so this will provide us with a regularĀ barometerĀ of their progress. I’m certainly looking forward to applying what I learnt on the Module 1 course and will be hoping to pass my Mod 2 and Level 2 by this time next year.

For the adults it’s more a case of helping to put on a session which is structured, planned and enjoyable for the players. I’m not there to coach but I’m working with our manager to make sure we’re not thinking up sessions when we get there and I think players appreciate a session which is planned and well organised. I’ll be blogging about our sessions so others can see what we’re doing and what we’re trying to achieve.

So, with the end of the under 7 season and the huge amount of work we’ve been putting in to our adult side it’s been a crazy few weeks but this blog now moves from solely focussing on under 7s to now covering both under 7s and adult football.


Enjoyment v Winning

Children play football for enjoyment, not to win. Children don’t enjoy football unless the win. Two statements which contradict themselves but which have been a factor in our under 7s season over the last couple of weeks.

I completely agree with the view that football for children at an early age should be about enjoyment and development, with a coach facilitating both of these objectives. However, a couple of weeks ago our manager told me that we’d lost a few games whilst I’d been in India and the kids had been quite upset by these defeats.

When playing in tournaments and games up to a recent point we’d always ensured our teams were mixed ability and that everyone received equal time on the pitch. However, our manager decided that we’d play a “strong” side in a recently friendly and also had our players play in “their positions” in the training session we had before our last friendly – the result being that our team won their first game, much to their delight.

Now, this approach goes against what I and others believe in but you can’t argue that it’s short term impact was a real lift in the players spirits and their self-belief. Nobody, even at under 7, wants to consistently lose games and therefore our manager recognised that a win would benefit all of our players.

Whilst it’s had a short-term impact, I want to make sure that putting players in set positions and focussing on winning isn’t something which becomes a weekly focus and we revert back to our original model of fairness and allowing players to experiment in different positions.

It’s been an interesting few weeks in retrospect, some of it I haven’t agreed with but then I think the win our players had has really given them a lift, even if they probably don’t reflect on it for too long.

We only have two more sessions before a summer break and we have no more games so it’ll simply be a case of making the last two sessions fun before the players (and coaches) take a break and prepare for next season where we’ll be playing on a weekly (ish) basis!