The Coach Diary

My daughter likes football!

I always taught my daughter didn’t like football. Yesterday she surprised me and asked ‘did I want to play 1v1 out the back?’. I answered, sure! As we walked out the back, she turned and said ‘get the goals, I’m not playing without goals.’ A few minutes later I had the goals out and we were ready to play.

To my astonishment she started to tell me rules of the game ( I have never spoke to her about football before). She said, “The keeper can pick the ball up and when you kick the ball out, it’s my ball.” After 15 minutes she lead 4-1. Yelling ‘Score’ (Very American I know) every-time she scored and pumping the air. Again I was surprised how she was able to connect with both feet and with power. We were playing in a ten by ten grid, with small goals either end of the back garden.

“Dad, I’m winning 4-1. Just because you coach, doesn’t mean you can play”

A few things stud out for me. I never once tried to stop the game and coach her. I did ask her if she wanted me to show her how to control the ball. She said, ‘I’m ok, that will take to long’ (She didn’t want to be coached, she wanted to play) so I didn’t persist. In fairness she was doing just fine and I didn’t want our little game to turn into a coaching session. I firmly believe that kids don’t need coaching at this age, what they need is to be allowed play, to discover and learn by themselves. I see hundreds of children in academies every weekend, standing in line waiting to kick or pass a ball, while parents stare on and coaches, over coach & complicate the process (The best players ever, were creations of street game not organised structured football). This is not natural learning and not only that, most of it is boring and doesn’t challenge the children. For me, that is not the game;  it doesn’t’ even resemble the game one bit.

We need to get away from all this adult control and over coaching and allow the children to challenge themselves and learn the game in its natural form. If we want to get back to resembling anything like street football, we need to remove the adult control and create an environment that resembles what street football is; Challenging, Creative, Goals, Fast and Fun. This can only be achieved by letting them play, there is plenty of time to coach but not enough time given to self learn.

My daughter said to be during our game. “Dad, I’m winning 4-1. Just because you coach, doesn’t mean you can play”. In that short 40 minute game she touched the ball more times than any weekend academy would have allowed her too, she scored more goals (she won 9-4) then most kids would in a month of organised sports and she started with a smile and ended with a laugh – at my expense. Most importantly, she created the game, she controlled it and she had fun.

This little game made a lot of sense to me. Children can teach us so much, if we just listen to what they have to say!

I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

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