As you may have read from an earlier blog i'm a football coach of an Under 9's football team.
Great job and i do enjoy it, my son plays so i get the best of both worlds.
As much as it is a great thing coaching man it has its downsides, i won't name names and stuff or go into the club i'm from as i'm sure i'd get into trouble.
One thing that erks me and i know associations around the place are trying to stamp this out is what we're here for.
As far as i'm concerned, my job is to develop, encourage and give everyone a fair go. Lets look at this again:
Develop: Each and every child needs development, regardless of skill level.
Encourage: Every player needs encouragement, good morale means players keep coming back wanting to play.
Fair go: We're not playing for sheep stations, at Under 9 level, gametime and development should be equal.
Funny as i say the above and believe i am doing the above to the best of my ability, one of the parents of one of our best players believes at this age group we should be playing the best and only the best, others should be on the bench...
I have a golden rule in under 9's, doesn't matter who you are you have equal bench ownership. It's only Under 9's, we don't see premiership points or finals until Under 11's, so for now it should be all about development and encouraging players to want to play this great game.
So this mornings game I've set up my team, staggered most of the best throughout the field so to try and spread as best we can and encourage more to get involved. I try to have atleast one of the best off on the bench each quarter to try and not be too undermanned.
One of the dads comes up and questions why his son is on the best and starts harping on about why the best only should be fielded... Wow, at Under 9's level we have parents putting all of their eggs and hopes on an 8 year old boy. Yes he is a good player but you know what, if half the time he turned up to football training and gameday, listen to the coach and conform into our TEAM aspect we are trying to encourage, as well as listen to our criticism and advice rather than the parents only advice then we may have a great little player.
Instead I have a player who distances himself away from the group, gets over worked by the dad who makes him train equivilent of a SANFL or higher player, yet wonders why the boy often looks flat and not himself...
Ah the joys of coaching, never going to impress everyone but i guess if you have a list of 19 and each week majority train and each week 19 all want to play then we must be doing something right.
Just wish some parents just were'n't so full on and putting their kids under such immense pressure, the idea of this great sport is to nurture the early, keep them interested and involved then as the grades start getting more full on then we train them for the future, not start at such an early age and burn them out before they can make big leagues!
One golden rule parents should realise also, Just because a child dominates at junior level it doesn't guarantee that child will make the AFL when older.
When i played junior footy i played alongside and agains the likes of Michael Doughty (Crows), Nathan Eagleton (Bulldogs), Jason Bevan (Pies).
I never would have thought Mick Doughty would have made AFL, at school he was small and not a prolific ball getter. He worked hard at Reynella, built his game, muscled up and moved to South Adelaide, then was recognised by the Crows. Imagine if every coach that had a player not getting much of the ball turned players like this early on away....
Mick's now a fantastic player, wish he was at the Tigers!
The other thing is also, there were 100's of players i imagined would make AFL and never did... I always thought Nathan Eagleton would, always been a gun... but others, well how they didn't go on i'll never know.
My Point is, If your not playing for premiership points at junior level, don't lower your eyes to the rest of your list, develop them, enjoy coaching and watch with admiration and pride as they develop into players who love the game. Better they stay in AFL loving the sport then hating it, not watch then turn to Soccer....