Diary of a Grassroots Coach – I ask myself is all of this worth it?

I’ve just sat down to dinner with the family. My phone is pinging messages constantly, and although I know I shouldn’t, I cannot help but sneak a peak. My messages are almost all concerning the football team I volunteer to coach.

The messages range from wether I think the game (which is still three days away) will be on, to problems with lifts and players who wont be attending. But then… But things start to get out of hand, and for the first time in a long time I have to question whether I have the heart to carry on anymore. The reason for this?

Well, the reason for this is quite possibly the worst possible accusation insult that can be levelled at a parent coach, in my opinion. Behind a thinly veiled enquiry about why a particular parents child hasn’t been chosen for the first 11, lies a passive aggressive assessment of my own child and the insinuation that they only make the team, because his father (me) is the coach.

I have been coaching this team now for nearly 5 years, and while this might not seem like a particularly long time, in terms of hours put in and hours away from the family home, it is quite a significant amount of time, for a volunteer. Over the years I have had problems with one or two parents, it comes with the territory I suppose.

At the end of the day we are talking about their offspring, and obviously they want the best for their children. They don’t understand the bigger picture, they’re oblivious to what takes place behind the scenes.

I have agonised for more hours than I dare remember over team selection, equal time and fair play. It has kept me awake through many a night trying to constantly juggle with these young players. And now, after everything, I am accused of nepotism.

My first reaction is anger, not denial. I am angry that some parent can have the nerve to accuse me of putting my own child before the team. The team that I give a considerable amount of my week to. I wonder to myself if they would have had the nerve to mention their thoughts about my child to me if I wasn’t the coach, if I was just another parent, stood next to them on match day?

Or is my child an easy target for bottom of the barrel insults and accusations? My child possibly gets a harder time than any other member of the team. I’m getting better, as I become more experienced and as I learn more.

But once upon a time, every stray pass, every missed opportunity would have seen me coming down on him. It’s a wonder that he’s still in love with the game. There are no perks in being the managers child as far as I can see.

First there, last to leave. Equipment carrier and a spectator to every player and parents disgruntled vocalised views . So as I sit here I have to ask myself is all of this worth it? I even found myself wishing my child didn’t play for the team.

Now that can’t be right, can it?

Article by guest author Steve O’Donoghue

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