Tales of a touch line dad, where do I begin….

Where do I begin? Suppose I best start at the beginning. Nearly two years ago when I came home from work I was greeted by my very giddy young son Kyle, he had just been to the local football pitch with my brother. “Dad I want to play for a team I know I’m good enough your brother says so”. Great was the first word that came to mind, another idea my brother had got into Kyle’s head.

After a few weeks I found a club that I thought would be suitable. unfortunately at the time I didn’t realise that the club being a bigger club Kyle was competing against up to 30 other local kids to get into two teams of 14 players and a lot of the players had been playing football for a number of years.
This left Kyle behind on what was needed to make the squads. After nearly a year with this team through no fault of the club we were at, Kyle was left demoralised and disappointed and wanting to give up.
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Then by accident I found two local clubs which are affiliated with a local professional club, I got in touch with both clubs. Only one got back in touch and invited Kyle down for training, this was Kyle’s chance to make a fresh start.
I remember the first day at training, it was on my day off and I was tired from working the day before. Kyle came into my bedroom around two hours before training with his kit on ready to go, “can I go training” were his first words to which i replied “no”and informed him training was not for a couple of hours. it was great to see the excitement in Kyle’s eyes along with his eagerness.
After a good breakfast we set off for training I don’t know who was more nervous me or Kyle. i was worried that he would not enjoy it and would blame me for taking him, as i watched him train I noticed that he was smiling and having fun something which i had not seen in him for a while. Just seeing that put me at ease, after 1 hrs training the coach came over to check how I though it had gone for Kyle and ask a couple of questions about Kyle’s age etc.
When the coach mentioned that Kyle was too old for the U8 team and the fact that there was no U9 team, my first thought was here we go again. How do I tell my son that he can train with the club but will not get a game due to there being no team for his aged group. My heart sank I felt disappointed, then the coach mentioned that he can go up an age level and train with the U10’s. I informed the coach i would speak with
Kyle and let him know, the short journey home seemed to last for ever.
Kyle couldn’t stop talking about how much he enjoyed the training and how he wanted to go again the next week, all the time I was worried how to tell him he might never get a game or we might have to find another club for him. Would Kyle blame me?
When we got home I sent Kyle upstairs to change whilst I gathered my thoughts on what to say to Kyle. A while later a very happy Kyle came down and recalled to his mum how he had enjoyed training and wanted to go again, I had to stop Kyle mid conversation and tell him there was an issue with his training. Kyle looked at me with a puzzled look ” what now” he said dissapointed
I informed him of what the coach had told me and that if he wanted to continue his only chance would be with the U10 team with kids that are two years older than him, I told him not to be disappointed because it wasn’t his fault. Straight away Kyle said he still wanted to give it a go. I got in touch with the coach and informed him that Kyle wanted to give it a go and that I would support him in the decision.
A week later i took Kyle down to training, the coach went through some drills with the group before a match Kyle did well in training. Personally I could see the difference between Kyle and the older players, they were more used to passing and controlling a football.
Then came a practice match with the U12’s, I could see Kyle was struggling, his touch wasn’t great he spent more time chasing the ball and the players around the pitch. After training Kyle came over with a smile on his face, I had to hide my disappointment when he asked ” how did i do dad”, I told him he did ok and with time he will get better or so I hoped.
Anyway after a couple of weeks training with the U10’s in various positions the coach informed us that the season was due to start with an away game and the next week he will be handing out shirts to the players that will be playing.
I knew that at the U10 aged group games consisted of 7 aside matches, we currently had 10 players not including Kyle. A week later after training the coach called all the players together to hand out the team shirts, to my amazement Kyle got a shirt, he was going to play in goal.
I have never seen him as happy, it brought a smile to my face, Kyle could not wait to get home and tell the rest of the family that he was playing for the team.
The week could not go quick enough for Kyle every day he kept mentioning the game, every day he wanted to practice. Each time I came home from work tired and drained, he would be stood on the doorstep asking to play football. No matter what the weather was like there he was wanting a game and every day I would have find the energy to have a game with him.
Eventually match day came, at 9 o’clock we got into the car and set off for a 10 o’clock kick off. i was nervous to say the least. On the way there i got lost and started to get angry with myself suppose it didn’t help with Kyle moaning that he was going to miss the start of the match. Luckily enough I managed to find where we were going.
Kyle went and warmed up with the rest of his team mates and I went and stood with some of the other parents watching the kids warm up. As I watched both teams warm up myself and some of the other parents could notice the difference between the teams, our team were having a kick about like they were in the school yard whilst the other team were doing a more structured drills.
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I found myself saying to the other parents “we will be lucky if we get any where near the other team today they look more professional than our team”. The game kicked off and after around 10 mins we were already two down the other team were on top. I found myself shouting at Kyle when he made a mistake I was getting very frustrated with the way he was playing.After the game had finished (lost 5-3 ) Kyle came over disappointed, I didn’t know what to say to him.
I was disappointed myself, the journey home was very quiet. Kyle didn’t mention the match and I didn’t know what to say to him. When we got home I told him not to be disappointed with the result due to it being the first game as a team. over the coming months the team started to gel, they won a couple of games and lost some with a couple of draws in between.
As the weeks passed the weather started to change, the nice warm weather had changed to cold windy wet days. No matter what the weather was Kyle wanted to go training. Some days he was either training in the rain and snow or he was playing in the rain or snow. it is harder during the winter months to be motivated to take my son to football training and games.
Standing on the touch line trying to encourage your son whilst being cold is hard enough but if he can play in it I can stand and watch. I have made some new friends and learnt a lot through the experiences of watching Kyle play football. Since the season has started I have given up most of my weekends to watch Kyle train and play football its been hard at times but worth it in the long run.
I know this gets said time after time but its true, parents should not try to live the game through their children. don’t say anything negative it doesn’t help. Always point out the positive things they do, they will learn there own way with encouragement. this is something I have had to learn the hard way.

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