Dear Grassroots……When did I become an employee of the parents??

I would like you to make this email public so hopefully someone somewhere may learn from what I’m saying and stop with immediate effect treating grassroots coaches like employees. 

I will start by saying I love the game and I love coaching with all my heart, I have coached grassroots football for 6 years now and on average devote about 10-15 hours per week. On top of this I also have a full time job and a family with all the job/family commitments like everyone else.



I will also add that most people who give up 10-15 hours per week of there time for charitable or community work are well regarded and at the very least thanked for there efforts.

When I first started 6 years ago with a bunch of 5 year olds with parents who had no expectations of grandeur and we’re happy to watch their children play.

I can’t tell you when or why this changed but instead of the nice texts “really appreciate that little talk you had with x he’s buzzing about what you said” or “thanks so much for taking little x and bringing him home, I would of been really stuck”

I now feel like I’m being treat like an employee of the parents with virtually every text or conversation being

  • A complaint
  • A request to do something or buy something
  • A problem
  • My training needs improving
  • The facilities we use aren’t good enough
  • The way we play isn’t good enough
  • Referees at the league aren’t good enough
  • The league isn’t ran well enough
  • Other teams have better strips/tracksuits/balls etc etc

Before I go any further the subs are £15 per month.
I want to know at what point I turned into an employee!!


I started this as a fun hobby to give something back and to be a role model for my son to look upto.


I can honestly say now that I dread games, dread training as there’s always an issue no matter how tiny and it has slowly but surely wore me down.

Please if you are a parent reading this just give your coach a little bit of credit for spending his or her time with your child, don’t criticise everything they say or do. Of course they will make mistakes because there just level 1 coaches trying to do a little coaching with kids. Every once in a while even give them a pat on the back and say “Cheers” as it means more than you will ever imagine.

It is with a heavy heart that I will be walking away from Grassroots as this grassroots coach has had enough.

Yours in sport



One thought on “Dear Grassroots……When did I become an employee of the parents??

  1. 9 Oct 2018

    Dear Anon,
    I have read your post and your experience was similar to mine. I took up amateur coaching because my children could not get onto local teams so I had to set up teams for them. I enjoyed it for many years and so did my kids, but eventually football becomes more important than the fun that can be derived from it and it began to wear me down. Some parents told me I was playing the wrong formation or I was playing his child out of position even though the child had chosen his own position. I wanted the kids to appreciate the fluidity of ‘position’ but the self-appointed experts shouted instructions to them to tell them where to be. I asked parents not to shout instructions; let them play ‘their game’ and some parents fell out with me over this.
    I had no ability criteria, all-comers were welcome and I had parents phone me to tell me that certain kids weren’t good enough for the team.
    When I said that I wasn’t going to carry on as coach the experts who had all the answers were suddenly too busy to take it on, even though there were present at training and matches.
    You say Anon that you have been doing it six years, you started around the time that I quit. It seems that not much has changed.
    My three children quit their teams because of their coaches. One gave up when he was fifteen the day his unhappy coach said ‘You’re not here to enjoy yourselves’.
    In my final years and the years since I gave up amateur coaching I have thought a lot about the whole kids football scene. It is a disaster. It is a replica of adult professional football and that is how it is seen by many of the participants, players, parents, amateur coaches and the governing body.
    If a child is given a toy hammer an saw the guild of master carpenters does not stand over him to make sure he plays with them properly and grows up to serve the industry. British Cycling does not chase every cyclist suggesting which gear would suit the terrain, but we have reached a point in England when a football is no longer a toy, a child’s plaything. Football is an industry and has been for over a century, but more recently that industry has swallowed up children’s games.
    The industry tries to influence the country through short courses run by the FA.
    I have five FA coaching certificates but all were attained through my attendance, there was no meaningful assessment. There was no mentoring, mentoring has been available since 2016 but on a voluntary basis and with four mentors for 600 coaches in my area there would be limited availability anyway. A classroom teacher receives a year of mentorship as standard. Everything a teacher does is seen by a mentor but a football coach is on his own. So even though the certificates were easily obtained I realised that I was not a coach and neither were the other dads with certificates or the ones without.
    There is a perpetual conversation in England about football and it is often a negative one. The courses that I attended were set against the backdrop of England’s ‘failure’. Failure to produce talented players but above all failure to win. Dads are being sent out to their local park on a Sunday to produce the future England player with very little coach training, but probably confidence in his own knowledge and ability even though it may be what he picked up from the media. Retrospective analysis of football by tv experts has been neatly substituted for wisdom to the extent that their cliches can be heard throughout England every weekend when children play football. And if the kids are playing in the local park then they are not at an academy and will not play professionally. But why is this even considered? Why should we stand over kids trying to improve them? They just want to play games.
    The FA sends these coaches out to ‘produce more and better players’. Yet they have no measure of how good they are so it would be difficult to know if coaching made them better. That doesn’t really matter though because nobody goes to look for the improvement anyway. As for more players, according to a recent article in ‘Bootroom’ on the FA website 135000 kids between the ages of 14 and 17 drop out every year. In my area there are more than twice as many under 12 teams than under 16. In those few years once enthusiastic little footballers drop out. This is a measure of the football that adults organise for children.
    So Anon we both have a storey that isn’t often told. We hear participation is up, wonderful facilities are being built and bright young stars appear to make England’s perpetual future look bright. But you and me and tens of thousands of others just quietly drift away from football because something is not quite right and when we think about it a lot is quite wrong. But nobody asks.

    John Breen

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