Tag: players

Kids “released” age 9 in Grassroots, really!!!

Right where do I start?

For over a decade I have been involved in the local football league. During this period I have spent time as a coach, mentor, referee, physio, kit man, refreshments stall worker etc. For the past two years I’ve been spending my Sundays as a League Rep at local youth games.

Recently I came across a team I briefly coached a couple of years ago. Lads of 9 years age now but I noticed a couple of the lads I remembered were missing. I asked some of the parents where these lads were. I assumed they had been lured away by the modern life of computer games and had lost interest in football. A parent rather sheepishly told me that they had been ‘released’ as they weren’t of the standard of the others. I asked them if they thought that was fair to them. The parent agreed it was slightly underhand but understood the coach’s views.

My response was “the team has a coach”? The parent was taken aback and I carried on by telling him that if he was any kind of coach then dropping kids and replacing them with better ability kids isn’t coaching. A coach can bring out ability. I’m not saying a Pele can be created from nothing but given good coaching a kid can be taught to play the game well. These kids who were cast aside were good kids with equally good parents and it makes me genuinely sad to think these kids have been removed from a team with their mates due to the fact that their coach lacks the skills to develop them. I left the parents with a warning that a coach with such a big ego will always be looking for better players and to watch their backs because if their kids fail to perform their coach won’t have any hesitation in replacing them too.

This sadly happens all too often and these coaches should hang their heads in shame. They bandy words like ‘development’ and ‘respect’ around……………..rubbish, talk is cheap and their actions speak far louder than their hypocritical rhetoric. Hats off to the genuine coaches out there developing kids with skills and attributes that will enhance their lives rather than the ‘poach not coach’ types so desperate to win games to massage their egos. I’m afraid the youth football at grassroots level is in a dire situation in this country. A huge shake up is needed and despite the FA guidleines and good practice ethics these egomaniac coaches exist in huge numbers up and down the country.

Yours in Sport


We are not professionals, but we stepped up when the kids needed someone. 

For the majority of us, we coach or manage our football team because it gives us a sense of joy. We enjoy the feeling we get when we help a child achieve something within the game that makes their face light up.

We’re not professionals, but we were the ones that stepped forward to run the team when others didn’t.

And that is the point. We are not professionals, nor do we claim to be. We’ve all sat on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in our armchair and shouted at the television as if we know better but we know, deep down, that we are no Pep Guardiola. Some of us, fortunately not myself, have come across parents who believe that they could be but ultimately they, like ourselves, had the chance to run the team but shirked away at the opportunity.

I’ve heard the horror stories. I’ve witnessed them in fact. I began coaching at an early age, helping run a local team at aged only 17. I stopped shortly before my 24th birthday to concentrate on the birth of my first son safe in the knowledge that my coaching days were over (little did I know that only six years later I would have a team of my own). Several years ago, whilst helping out with the aforementioned local team, I witnessed one woman actually slap the manager because her son had been named as a substitute. These are the kind of stories we hear about almost on a weekly basis.

But that is not my point.  My point goes back to the fact that we are not professionals. We have full-time jobs in which we fit the running of our team around our already hectic day-to-day schedules. Now I am the first to admit that when I was first ‘awarded’ the manager title I felt out of my depth. Granted, I had coached before but not six and seven-year-old children. I didn’t have a clue where to start. However, shortly after I struck gold.

Thanks Coach

I am fortunate enough to be involved with a club that has many years experience when it comes to running a club at grassroots level. They had found a UEFA B licensed coach who was willing to help out and take a block of training sessions for whichever of our teams felt that they would benefit from some professional coaching. The fee was small, minimal when taking into account the small fee which we charge for training anyway, and all of my parents were willing to pay an additional £1 each to take up this opportunity.

I can’t stress enough how much this benefited everyone involved. The children learnt plenty and I picked up some invaluable tips that I feel have made me a better coach all-round. From how to treat the children in a manner that is fun but still gains respect, to drills and football related games which keep every child engaged at all times, hence stopping them from becoming bored.

I took this coach on for a four week block before our season began and it definitely helped my team prepare themselves from the massive step up involved from training to their first matches as grassroots players.

I can’t recommend this approach highly enough. The whole experience enabled the team to form a bond which perhaps I could not have achieved. I’m not a professional and neither, at least not yet, are any of the children. Getting help from one was a great experience and I would jump at the chance to do it again. It’s not a permanent thing, it’s almost a treat and the children loved every minute of it. Unfortunately for myself (not so much the man himself), the coach was snapped up by Manchester City shortly after to help run their new academy in China.

There’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, taking that jump does have major benefits for all involved.

Jamie Ward


Managing player behaviour

Understanding what young players want from their grassroots football experience can help prevent poor behaviour, writes FA county coach developer, Mike Antrobus.

Poor player behaviour at training or matchday is often caused by boredom, the desire for attention, or the practice activity being pitched too hard or easy.