A parent is the first teacher, sounds too obvious.
In football, a parent the first coach, now you must be wondering, how?
Becoming a professional footballer is a dream for most young people worldwide, and parents too because being a professional football rewards a lot.
It’s not just the healthy pay but being paid to do what you’re passionate about is the best feeling of dreams turning into reality, it’s incomparable and of course, playing football comes with its added advantages of better health, traveling the globe, building well-networked connections and gaining more knowledge.
In developed societies, parents introduce children to football as early as three years of age while in underdeveloped countries like Uganda, the most common age of introduction to formal coaching is between 12 years old to 15 years of age.
As a youth football coach, when I settle down to plan a coaching session to teach players in the development phase, I usually plan to teach them the technical aspects of the game that any footballer should be able to execute basics like; passing, receiving, tackling, travelling with the ball, throwing, shooting and heading the ball however, in practice the whole planned session doesn’t work out, it practically gets dumped on the pitch.
COACHING PLAN SHOULD BE USED. WHY DOES IT GET DUMPED ON THE PITCH?
Getting players in order to be coached becomes increasingly difficult, they easily get distracted and lack concentration, don’t have respect for teammates and officials, always talkative, can’t follow basic instructions, and get easily agitated over the most minor of referee decisions, hold grudges and revenge to hurt and injure teammates, when in the wrong they can’t apologize and don’t even know how to apologize, they thrive more on excuses than reasons, they claim to need a lot of motivation, can’t communicate effectively, very poor at keeping and managing time BUT the major one has got to be a total lack of confidence and the lack of genuine passion for playing football.
If all these habits and behaviors were from players under 12 years then it WOULD be understandable but in my experience with Ugandan players aged between 15-17 years and even worse with adult players, you get into a senior team training session and it’s very much like a nursery class. It’s all too frustrating until you realize that none of the players is bothered at all, it’s all very normal to them, they don’t intend to be that way BUT weren’t taught by their parents how to behave.
Maroons Junior team had lost 5-0 to Villa Jogoo Young in our last game of the 2015-16 FUFA Juniors’ League (FJL) it was an away match so on our journey back, I was very disappointed with our performance but it’s not only the poor performance that was getting to me because I know young players lack consistency and my slogan to them is next time better.
I gathered them up and asked each one of them to define common sense, they each came up with a definition that we dismissed based on example. We couldn’t get a concrete definition (if you have it please post it in the comments section) but got basic examples like; we don’t believe that there’s any culture in the world where people have lunch or dinner while squatting on top of tables, then on realizing that we were on the same page I told them that when we report back for training in preparation for the next season, our first coaching session will be LEARNING and APPLICATION of common sense (parents, please do your role).
Initially, the players didn’t like the idea because they claimed everybody has common sense but within a minute of mentioning, I kept on picking out actions that showed a lack of common sense, by the end of our journey we had identified about five moments that proved a serious lack of common sense among the squad.
HOW THEN DOES A PARENT BECOME THE FIRST COACH?
Football clubs will start considering players for professional ranks between the ages of 14-18 years old. Players have to go through academies and all kinds of underage football being coached.
To make it that far they need to be taught how to maintain high levels of concentration, how to respect teammates and officials, how to solve basic problems, to embrace challenges, being disciplined, taking responsibility for their actions and outcomes, being able to work in a team and to have teamwork, proper personal hygiene, having the ability to motivate themselves, have confidence that has to be differentiated from arrogance, high level of self-esteem, being straight forward and honest, should be able to take criticism, should be taught patience, they should be able to get over losses and poor performances, should be able to persevere, have the confidence to learn through making mistakes (how many Ugandans can do that?), have knowledge of performing first aid, know proper nutrition, know how to rest, should be taught how to set achievable goals, should be taught how to manage income and to have basic etiquette.
As a parent you MUST endeavor that you teach children how to be able to live and interact with other people because at some point in their lives they will have to live on their own or with other people, as footballers they will need to interact with teammates, officials, fans/supporters, opponents, and sponsors but the most challenging part is when they interact with coaches to be taught how to play. Will they be ready for a coach to get on with teaching the technical part of the game? Or football coaching time will have to be sacrificed to get them prepared (that would be a selfish act on the rest of the team).
As a parent, you are the first coach because you have to instill all these values in children. If a child can’t be confident in your presence as a parent then how will they execute the basic skills required to play football while being watched by thousands of fans?
At the moment we have got a lot of youngsters who lack passion and commitment, we have footballers who play like they are forced to, they never got to enjoy the fun part of the sport while growing up, training is like a punishment to them. When they are given a break, they take it as a get out of jail pardon.
As a parent you need to be the number one supporter of your child, monitor them to ensure that with time they develop the values you instill in them, know the profession they want to pursue and get started. 12 years is a beginning for you as a parent to teach basic values so that coaches can take over and deliver what they are paid to do best.
PARENTS FOR PROFESSIONALS
Almost every professional footballer with parents will always be grateful to their parents first because they recognize the effort and responsibility that was used to get them that far, so as a parent you need to look in the mirror because your actions will make or break your child’s dream of making it as a professional.
The values you teach your child to act as a foundation for them to set up the goals required to achieve their desired vision.
As a development level football coach, I am more than grateful to all those parents that have well-groomed children. It’s because of your hard work that I get to be the football coach that uses my session to work out as planned.
As a parent, before you complain about the state of our football. Have you done your part as a parent?