Technique, Technique, Technique..7v7 is the answer!

Dec 22, 10 Technique, Technique, Technique..7v7 is the answer!

The Coach Diary was setup simply because I love football and I love coaching and I want Irish kids to play a brand of football that we can be proud off. I also want to hear what other coaches in the game have to say about football in Ireland particularly at the Grass roots level.

Is it to competitive?

Are the coaches good enough?

Are only ELITE teams catered for?

The FAI are working hard developing kids and breathing them for the future, the emerging talent programme seems to be working well, but is there more that we as Grassroots coaches can do for our kids?

I think so; I believe we can produce even more technically talented kids, however MAJOR changes to the KIDS game need to be implemented ASAP.

We have competitive leagues right down to the youngest age groups, putting huge emphases in the idea that winning is everything. This leads to teams picking the bigger, stronger players, at the expense of the smaller, more talented players.

Kids Naturally want to win, we don’t need leagues and cups for the benefit of the adults. 

Personally I believe that we don’t do enough in training on the technical side of them game, in fact we aren’t allowed due to the competitiveness of the game in Ireland, to much focus on wining over development. With street soccer pretty much a thing of the past, we no longer see kids with natural skill or street soccer skill as you might call it – yeah some  can pass a ball, but can they really dribble and keep the ball in a pressurised game, do our kids have game intelligence, are the kids being taught game intelligence?

Who was the last technically gifted player we produced, that has gone onto be a world class player?

The grassroots game has become so competitive that as coaches we are forgetting why we signed up for this in the first place. You only have to watch how coaches are losing the plot, screaming and shouting instructions on the side lines every weekend.

“The player pathway is designed to give every person entering the game the chance to go as far as they possibly can within the sport. In order to achieve this the FAI has brought together the many strands of the game and has encouraged them to work together to put player needs at the heart of their programmes. This approach is designed to create a seamless transition for players as they develop and mature. The pathway is divided into six stages (See FAI Website)

The FAI player pathway training to win is at age 18 so why are we doing it at age 6? Another problem is that of the 32 leagues in Ireland all of them are doing different things, some play 7v7 to 10, others to 8 etc, etc. We all need to be doing the exact same thing, all leagues should have the same policies and strcutures in place, but they don’t!

I would like to see competitive football in Ireland starting much later & cup football even later and also make small sided games 5v5 @ 7s & 8s and 7v7 to under 11s and move to 11v11 at u14s, allowing kids to develop technically be more confident on the ball..We want our kids to…

  • Be more confident on the ball,
  • Be able to play in a pressurised game,
  • Play in all positions,
  • Develop left & right foot,
  • Get kids playing out from the back,
  • Get keepers on the ball more

The non competitive SSG allows for all of this to happen naturally. We need to get away from the competitiveness in our game at under age and be more focused on development at all levels.

So my focus for this site and blog is to try and get coaches thinking more about the technical side of the game, about player development and a little less about tactics and winning all the time, particularly at a young age.

Don’t get me wrong, I just as much as anyone else love winning, but I want my players playing football, I want them keeping the ball, I want them all to be confident on the ball and not always opt for the kick and run game and get “stuck in” attitude.

“We cannot want to win more then the kids themselves”

The great thing about us Irish players is that physically we have always been strong and we have great fighting attitude that most Europeans countries don’t have. We always compete and have that never give up attitude; forgive me using this cliché “The fighting Irish” comes to mind. Now imagine adding technically developed players to that, could you imagine how good we could be. There is no difference between an Irish 8 year old and a Spanish one – put there is a difference in  coaching and structure of football each child is given.

So, what do I think can I do?

Well, I know I’m not alone in thinking this and I wouldn’t have started this site and blog, if it wasn’t for other coaches in the game who thought like me I wouldn’t have started this. I think we can change the attitude of Parents and coaches across Ireland.

I cant do this alone, I need your help and we all need to be on the same page and have the same focus and goals for young footballers in this country.

My aim is to try and gets as much information and ideas about coaching football in Ireland, I hope to make contact with other nationalities and see how they approach the game in their countries. See what we can learn from them. 

I hope to make contact with the all grades of coaches, from the ones just starting out at grassroots, to the ones at the very top of world football. I will open up discussions on my blog and find out what you are thinking and how we can make the Irish National league and International team a powerhouse in world football.

We need to come in line with Spain, Portugal, France, Holland & Germany and copy a lot of what they are doing and competitive leagues at under age need to go (its ruining the kids game) and keep the 5v5, 7v7 & 9v9s game for longer.

Let’s not rush the kids into a game they don’t understand, leave that for the adults.

I would love to hear from you, so please get in touch

Many Thanks,

Antonio Mantero

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