Irish Grassroots Football

How do parents leave their kids with these people?

After spending the entire weekend out at the DDSL and NDSL cup finals, it was nice to see certain coaches just letting the kids play; however there was plenty of abuse coming from the coaches and supporters on the line.

The Abuse was disgraceful

I really don’t know how referees and assistants do their job, I for one would not in a million years be an official. To be abused that much by people who don’t even understand the game, a kids game at that.  It’s a total disgrace. Shame on you if you were one of many verbally abusing them.

Give them a break

The Herald and The Star glamourise how great the weekend went (and in most parts it was a total success) but we forget to write about the abuse the officials were receiving. This has to stop, try and put yourself in their shoes, with no linesmen (although they had some help on this occasion), no fourth officials and they have to see everything that goes on and make a quick decision. Virtually impossible to make the correct decisions all the time, after all we have the advantage of seeing things from a completely different angle than they do. Give them a break, folks!

All to common problem in the game today..

I had planned to write about certain so called coaches and how they are getting away with verbally abusing some kids but I received another email from a parent confused about how her child should be coached. I don’t usually put these up as there is 3 sides to every story, but as I had received similar in the past I thought i might address this one.

Below you will read another sad situation but only too real a story about how children, yes CHILDREN are being verbally abused, insulted and intimidated all over this island and one parents fight against it! The following names are not the real people involved names..This is a long post..

Mrs Jones Email

“I have read a number of your posts and I decided you may be a good person to ask about the competitive level in U9s football. My son is 9 and we are in a small club which we hoped would be high in team spirit and low in competitiveness. How naive we were! All year we have expressed our concern that the emphasis is on winning and that the managers have a “first team” which they train separately at training and who are always on playing full matches etc. Anyway we want our son to have fun and learn to play with a team and don’t much care about winning as we believe you have to learn to lose as well as win. We want him to develop a skill and sport that he can continue to play for the rest of his life.

My query is this, what is appropriate at this level? Am I completely misguided to expect all children to get a full game during the year and that a first team is not appropriate until much later in development?

Appreciate any advice.

The Coach Diary response

Firstly delighted to help in any way, even if it is a few words of advice; I’m currently writing up guidance for coaches in terms of communications with the parents and kids to let them know what their coaching policy is and how many minutes a child is guaranteed per game.  I would recommend every coach to get all kids are parents together preseason and discuss their plan for the year ahead. Some of the questions they might answer maybe

  • Explain how the try out will work;
  • Explain how the teams will be chosen to the players and parents;
  • Who will be in charge of evaluating the players;
  • New season is a clean slate for all players;
  • Players will be evaluated based on their overall season performance and their skills at the time of the try out not based on previous clubs, how much they have won or who their parents are;
  • Explain how playing time will be determined – Be specific – don’t just say everyone will play. Commit to giving each child at least half of every game for example and don’t always start the same player;
  • Defend how we play and develop versus long ball tactics and winning;
  • If you don’t train, you don’t play.


Communication is a huge issue in kids sports, coaches fell like they don’t have to explain themselves to the parents but as a parent myself I would want to know what my child coaches is doing etc. Even down to the time and place of when training is on and what the policy is for calling training off etc.

Everyone can always try to communicate a little better. To answer your questions too many coaches treat this recreational sport as professional game and that’s not an issue if they themselves are professional in what they do, however too many are not and this is where the problems lies.

Every kid should be guaranteed a half or at least 15 minutes of 20, and every child and parent should know what the clubs policy is on kids playing and what the leagues rules are. It is a total disgrace if your sons coach is not playing all his players. A child can never develop confidence, how to pass under pressure and game movement if he/she is not being played. Every child deserves a chance to perform, not matter what the level. Communication is the problem here and you need to know where you stand and so does your child. So I would ask the coach/club to explain the polices of kids playing time and explain why?  If he doesn’t give you an answer and doesn’t understand why you need to know. He shouldn’t be coaching kids, full stop.

If I had my way competitive football would not be introduced in Ireland until u13s, which under the current rule change, means kids would be 11 and 12 before they play in competition. Competitive leagues are a major factor in kids not getting enough game time.

Hope this helps.

Mrs Jones Email reply

“I really appreciate your reply as we have had something of a difficult season as a result of the coaches. I hope you don’t mind my contacting you but we often feel like a lone voice in the wilderness as both coaches cannot seem to grasp that it isn’t about our child getting to play all the time but rather we feel everyone including our child should get a game. We also feel that no child can learn and development where segregation during training occurs, the training is dull and a number of children act as subs all the time. It will and has made us deeply unpopular but we have written two letters of complaint, had numerous conversations and text messages all to no avail. Apparently winning the Shield is most important and the people who are going to be involved in that are the coaches sons, 7 other boys who have been on the team for 3 years and then my son and some other boys as substitutes. I attach the most recent correspondence with them primarily because part the way through I typed as my son dictated his feelings as best he could”.

Thanks for your interest.

“The most important thing as a coach, is to have fun. and to make sure the kids you coach, fall in love with the game”

The Coach Diary response to 2nd email

This is happening all over the country and I’m sure many parents feel the same way as you, these are the type of coaches the game can do without, UNQUALIFIED and who believe they’re doing the right thing by making winning over development as the priority, but the competitive leagues do not help anyone and are the root of this problem.

I just as much as everyone love to win, but player development and keeping possession, making players smile whilst playing the game and improving every single player technically is my number 1 goal. Keeping the kids involved and in the game.

You have to pursue this until you and the other parents are satisfied with a outcome, you’re right to take this further.  Highlighting a situation like yours can only cause a ripple and hopefully others will catch on.

I’m delighted you have come to me about this and I would be happy to put this on my blog, without the names obviously; let me know? I think highlighting this and getting this story out there can only do good for the game. We are all learning and educating ourselves on how best to coach kids.  However this is a huge problem with the game today and until we go non competition and insist that coaches do the recommended badges for the age appropriate group they’re coaching. Coaches like these will always be around and that competitive edge will always be a factor in kids not getting the game time they deserve.

Keep me posted on the outcome.


We sent a few more emails back and forward and this issue is in the committees hands to be resolved. Unfortunately I can’t show the correspondence between parent and club, all I can say it that these coaches should be out of CHILDREN’S soccer for good! Below is Mrs Jones son feelings about his season so far. Very sad that we still have adults like these coaching in our game.

These are Peter’s thoughts about his season so far. (The Child’s View)

Training was ok, sometimes it was fun but a lot of the drills are boring like passing around the circle for 10minutes and Sam (The coach) shouts and rants on and on. If Sam is giving out to someone he rants and shouts and then he randomly changes to another subject and changes his mood all the time.

Sam (The Coach) says shut up a lot and swears sometimes. Coach 2 makes us do laps around the astro pitch and if we say one word we do an extra lap or two. I liked King of the Ring and shooting and matches. There aren’t enough balls and some people get the ball all the time and then some of us don’t really get the ball. I don’t learn much from training because we don’t do much and it is boring. Some of us don’t really get much time, some of us get half a match at the most while some people like Wayne and Nani get full matches all the time. A lot of us haven’t gotten a full match yet which is unfair because other people get full matches all the time and have only been taken off once. If you keep asking for a full match you don’t get one, Sam (The Coach) said that 2 weeks ago. People like Hugo haven’t had any match for 3 games in a row.

U8’s much fairer

In the U8s people get taken off after 10-15mins and then get put back on for 10-15mins later on. That is the way I think everybody would get the same amount of match time and nobody can become favourites. When I don’t get put on I get disappointed and then I hope I’ll get a full match in the next game. I don’t get a full match in the next game and that makes me feel even more disappointed and makes me feel less hopeful that I’ll get a full match next time.

I have no confidence, because I don’t play

When I am playing I don’t feel confident because I am not used to being put on that much so I don’t play my best. The only reason that Wayne, Nani and Javier are so good and confident is because they get to play more than anybody else and get more confident as they play. They don’t pass to people like me, Jack and Max when we play. Wayne and Nani don’t pass the ball in the matches, so what is the point of doing the pass around the circle in training. People like Jack and myself could play better if we were put in the right positions like attacking midfield and centre midfield and the wing. When Max was captain he didn’t even play the game and I think that is really unfair. It is very disappointing when people like me and Jack and Max and Lito are not on for the first half and then only on for a bit of the second half. You have promised people that they will get a full game for weeks and they haven’t”.

Unfortunately Peter feelings can be heard all over the country and as parents you need to stand up against these bullies who only have their own interest at heart. I have highlighted just some of Peter’s feelings however I could have highlighted the entire post.

Just want to thank Mrs Jones and her son for allowing me to report on this. Lets see what the outcome is, hopefully this can be resolved for all concerned. After all, its only a kids game and let them be the competitive ones not the adults.

“The children are the customer and if the customers aren’t happy, then you’re not doing your job!” – TCD

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One reply on “How do parents leave their kids with these people?”

Hi Alan, great points, I firmly believe that Irish coaches and parents are catching on and the mentality of the win win win is changing. Confidence leads to risks and risks leads to being spontaneous which so many kids are told not to be. “Get rid of it”, is a phrase which should be abandon and any coach or parent who tells a child to do that should be sent off! However we still have a long way to go and their are still so called coaches out there that are getting it all wrong. The biggest problem is the leaders of the game; has anyone ever spoke to a group of kids about how they want the game organised? I don’t think so!! where is the kids committee? 

The biggest problem we have is that to many adults who run the leagues and clubs are so far removed from the people that play the game “The Kids” that they can never understand what the kids actually want. The next time you are doing a session, pick 2 captains (the most unlikely ones) and get them to pick 2 teams (just like in the school yard), tell the kids to organise their own teams and then blow your whistle. Don’t coach and “let the kids play” for an entire hour. Change sides at the half hour mark and blow the whistle again. When training is finished, ask them did they enjoy that? I guarantee you they will say was best session ever! 

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