If there is one massive issue that we face at grassroots, certainly in India, it is that kids turn up for football training often bringing along an entourage – a parent who will merely accompany, a nanny who will be lugging all forms of munchies, beverages, ‘dirty’ cleats and a change of clothes, a driver who will bustle along just in case there is more help needed, and, on the odd day, a doting grandparent.
Don’t get us wrong. We are all for parent participation and support from family, but the thing we find really disappointing is how children are not allowed to do anything for themselves. Whether it is carrying their sports kit, putting on shoes, tying the laces, cleaning the boots, combing their own hair… it’s like the children don’t have minds and hands of their own! And unlike what parents and guardians may think, this is THE greatest disservice you are doing to your child.
Here’s a fantastic video, sorry an 8-minute education, that should be made compulsory viewing for parents and guardians all over the world:
Isn’t that amazing? A shining example of what can be achieved by responsible kids with a good system and a little guidance!
As grassroots coaches and parents, we need to gradually give children increasing responsibility so that they are able to think (and do) for themselves. Our priority, while remaining football, is also to build confidence, self-esteem, sportsmanship, tenacity and a sense of fair play within each wonderful child we have the privilege of coaching.
Even on the pitch, do you want a player who is dependent on you as a coach/parent to keep shouting instructions from the touchline or do you want to play a part in creating a thinking footballer who can take intelligent decisions based on rapidly changing game scenarios? What is the kid going to do if you’re unable to make it to a game? Look lost and ill-equipped to utilise his tremendous talents usefully? It doesn’t have to be that way.
What we’re getting at is this tendency of parents & guardians to stifle their children and prevent them from taking responsibility, being accountable and becoming their own people. Nobody wants our children to get hurt or screw up. But if we don’t allow them to make mistakes, how will they ever learn?
It’s an attitude that extends to every aspect of a child’s life, well beyond the football field, and it is critical that we start allowing children to do things for themselves. Let them pick up the dishes after meals, let them go get water for themselves, let them help in running the house, let them contribute their efforts wherever possible. Without doubt, they will make the odd mistake, they may trip up and even hurt themselves sometimes. But if they never fall (fail?), how will they ever learn to get up?