At the end of last year I listened to a Radio 4 programme ” Britain’s Home Fans” about the changing world of children’s football and it made me stop and think about the unstinting dedication of the coaches at our own children’s football team, Hernhill Herons. It is thanks to them that children’s football has not only survived, but thrived in our own small community. As sports have been side-lined in schools in favour of acedemic subjects which can be assessed and graded, the dad’s have picked up the ball and run with it.
Despite the constant criticisms and, sometimes, abuse, from us parents – because the team are not top of the league, or they are not giving the weaker players a chance to have a go, they turn up, week-in, week-out, every Saturday – and probably Sunday, Monday….. to train and organise matches. Not only this, they organise fundraisers to provide kits and equipment for the team as well as camping and other fun activities for the children.
For all this work they expect little or no gratitude, but are satisfied with the reward of watching the children play for the team and grow into competent and, every once in a while, excellent, football players.
What an amazing lot they are!
If you would like to hear the programme, go to the BBC website here:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p2v1z
“…In “Football’s Home Fans”, [Ian Stone] investigates the rapidly changing world of children’s football. From campaigns to improve parents’ behaviour on the touchline, to bans on league tables for younger players, many in the game believe we’re at the start of a new era. Ian tours the touchline, talking to parents as they stand behind plastic barriers, trying not to shout “get stuck in!” to a bunch of eight year olds. We ask whether the Football Association’s Respect campaign has worked, learn about the work of the National Children’s Football Alliance, and talk to the author and broadcaster Jim White, who spent years coaching his own son’s team and then wrote a book about it”.