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



2 Replies to “Kids “released” age 9 in Grassroots, really!!!”

  1. Evening Phil,
    I was a grassroots coach and my three sons were players; we all gave it up because it was unenjoyable. I watched many youngsters quit because they were shouted at or left on the sideline.
    I spoke to my local league and FA officials, but they dismiss everything I say. I wrote to them recently to point out that five years ago there were forty teams in each of the U15 and U16 leagues but now each group has under 30. I did not get a reply. I have had so little response from officials that I wrote the book Robbed to get things off my chest.
    I agree with you that grassroots is in a dire situation. The FA is expecting amateur coaches who attend a short course to produce the next England team, even though there is no meaningful assessment of their suitability or understanding. The title of coach is handed out too freely.
    John Breen

  2. It’s a shame that these egocentric “coaches” measure their success by the scores. We have a team like this in our league. Same disgraceful, elitist, unforgiving, robotic behaviour on display week in week out, same psychology, same recruit/release ethic.

    The end result is that nobody wants to play the team in question as every encounter is demoralising. It’s quite hard to listen to the “coach” with his constant comments and instruction from the sideline and leaves us wondering what would happen – how would his team fair – if he wasn’t there to direct them? It seems they might not be able to think for themselves or operate as a team.

    I was shocked that the parents of the team in question seemed to think that this behaviour was ok – was normal. Their coach seems to be the complete antithesis of everything the FA Respect programme seeks to deliver yet my local league and county FA seem to turn a blind eye despite numerous complaints. We never see this chap on CPD events, I’m not even sure if he holds an FA qualification but what is clear is that he addresses his team as if they are mini-adults and demands results in the same manner.