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!


About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

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