Today I am going to talk about the parents and the vital role they
play in the success of their footballing sons.
As you look up and down the sidelines at a youth match you see scores
of proud parents cheering on their kids. It's probably true to say
that the majority of dads are frustrated footballers and most of the
mums think their kid is the greatest thing on earth. As a former youth
player, and as a parent of two footballing sons, I can relate to
that!! I can never stress enough how supportive my dad was all through
my career. In fact, he still comes to watch me play in charity matches
and stuff now. I wouldn't be where I am if it wasn't for his endless
support and encouragement.
I am thrilled when parents take an interest in their son's
passion but I do also get a little miffed when they interfere and
think they know better than the coaches. Professional soccer coaching
in an academy should be seen as an extension of school. Most parents
wouldn't dream of marching into a classroom demanding to know why
their kid got a bad mark. Parents largely leave it up to the teachers
when they hand their children in to school. But unfortunately the same
is not always true of soccer school.
Every parent wants the best for their children but their view is often
biased when it comes to their real ability. So instead of leaving it
up to the coach to decide how to deal with the children the parents
intervene. I have seen parents start bickering and bantering and start
a whispering campaign about a coach. If a child is really fantastic it
probably won't matter but it can be damaging to some children. The
kids listen to what their parents tell them and it affects them. It
then makes the coach's job harder and can affect the way the child
plays. For instance...imagine a kid who plays really badly for a while
and gets sidelined for a few matches. I would tell him to work on
whatever it was but the parent might say that he is good and shouldn't
be on the bench and the coach is crap etc - I'm sure you get the
picture. The kid is bound to believe his dad and if he hears him
slagging off the coach then he loses respect for him and stops paying
so much attention. Now instead of working on his problem he makes it
worse by not listening and not working on it. Then everyone wonders
why he continues to play badly and is eventually released. The dad
will then spend all his life slagging off the coach for ruining a
promising football career. And it could all be avoided if the dad told
his kid to listen to the coach and kept his own opinions to himself.
That is very extreme example but similar things do happen.
Luckily there are not too many parents who are that intense and I
really value their support. But on the whole they are biased and
uneducated in the football sense. Too much input from them can
undermine the coach's authority. Parents associate success with
winning but we need to teach the kids to be team players - it's not
just about one player and one ego. Parents often say they want the
truth but sometimes they only want it if it's good!
So all you parents reading this....be gentle in your criticism and let
your kids be the best they can be by standing back a bit.
See ya next week....Micky