Irish Grassroots Football

New Season, New Level…Rejection or Selection??

So the season has only just ended for most and now it’s time to switch off from football before another season begins. Wait now….. it’s starting again!!

As just as another season ends along come July 1st (open season). Which for people reading this outside of Ireland this is when players can trial for other clubs and potentially sign for whoever they like. As we know it’s not that simple.

The team I coach has just moved up another level….the top level of schoolboy football on this Island (Others may think not) some might say. I spent 4 seasons with this team and we have come up four divisions year on year and finally we are at the summit. What makes this even more special is that we have only lost 3/4 players along the way…..Some had reached their level, some moved abroad and others to a different sport (GAA). Of the squad of 16, all are from the local area within 1-2 miles of the club and 12 have been with the club since academy or u9s.

Previously, what I like the most about coaching outside the top level is, you don’t have to worry about coming back on July 1st with the players playing at a lower level it was less likely they would be snapped up by the so called top clubs.  I’m happy to say that we did come back July 1st because we had so many players looking to join us for a change. Success brings these problems.

We have just completed a week of sessions looking at players with the final one this Wednesday (July 8th). We wanted to the give all the players the best opportunity to showcase their ability. So we scheduled the sessions around the players availability. In the sessions we included lots of ball control, possession games, rondos, 3v1, 4v2’s, 5v5 games as well as Cognitive exercises and finishing with 11-aside games.

After Wednesday we will offer some players the chance to train with us and if they like still go and try-out for other teams. I want to be able to give these young kids the best opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately some of our own players will be dropping down for commitment reasons mainly. As for the rest of the squad, they have been planning for this for sometime now and the players are now both technically and tactically ready for the next level.

“Young players have certain rights and specific needs that must be met by the coach, whilst learning the game”.

New Players

For the first time in 4 seasons, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Parent calling on behave of their sons and young confident players taking it upon themselves to call.  After some consultation, talking about our philosophy and training methods we invite the players to train for the week at first and longer if required.

“My responsibility is getting all my players playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back.”

Of course a lot of parents thinks their child has the edge, however there are a lot of things that make up the type of player I like to work with. First and foremost they must be willing to learn, show 100% commitment and be respectful.

“If you aren’t playing well, the game isn’t as much fun. When that happens I tell myself just to go out and play as I did when I was a kid”

Switching Clubs

The decision parents make for their child or in fact (as I found out this week) the child makes for himself, must have the child best interest at heart.  The child may be one of the best player at his current team and enjoys having that responsibility.  Moving to a another team, he/she may not be the number one player or have as much responsibility as before. He/she may find it hard not to be the center of attention anymore and this could have an impact on his confidence. Moving clubs is a big decision and not only for the player. The entire family can be affected in many cases.

I have put together a list of things, parents might want to consider when moving clubs: 

  • Be as honest as possible with your current club, good coaches want to see their players progress even if it means to the club up the road. A coach/club should always leave the door open for any player who wants to see if they can move up a level by trying a new team. If players feels they are always welcome back, then it makes things easier for everyone concerned.
  • You must remember to be respectful to your current club and communicating will always make things better. People like to speculate, so best to get in there early and let the manager know.
  • Most elite teams have 3-4 players who stand out more than the rest, your child may have been one of these players at his last club and now finds himself down the pecking order. This sometimes can be hard to deal with and can hugely affect someone’s confidence but it’s something to be aware of. 
  • He/she may have to work his way into the starting line up, again this may not have been the case previously. Again this could have an affect on his/her confidence or desire to play.
  • A whole set of new players and coaches to become familiar with and sometimes at the younger ages this can be difficult to adapt too.
  • You may have to travel more. This means more commitment, more pressure to get to training, and will certainly cost you financially.
  • The coaching will most likely be different and may NOT be as enjoyable as before or may be even MORE enjoyable. Again another thing to think about.
  • Are the coaches experienced or just good talkers and poachers?
  • If you really want to know whether you’ve made the right choice for your child, you need to attend training. This is where you will see the coach in action. How the players are coached and how the players are being treated. Don’t be dependent on your kid to relay accurate information.
  • Do the the sessions looked planned, are they organised, fun, age and skill level appropriate.
  • Ask about the ratio of kids to coaches. Eight to ten kids per coach would be ideal. You definitely wouldn’t want it to be higher than 14 kids per coach. It’s virtually impossible to coach and impact a team on your own for a long periods of time.
  • What time will the team be training. I found over the years that some teams can train at the strangest times. Make sure you find out the training times as this may impact on other areas in your life. Summer and winter training times will likely be different and at different locations.
  • Most clubs have good facilities however not all teams at the club get to use them, so no harm in   checking to see where the team will be training.
  • Speak to other parents and ask them about the club and the coaches. You are putting your child in the hands of these people, you have a right to know.
  • If you aren’t satisfied, take a look at the what neighboring teams do. It may be worth a little extra drive time to get your kids in a better set-up.
  • Check to see what the managers plans are? Is he a win at all costs type manager or does he develop the kids properly and try to coach in the correct manner…. allowing the players to take risks and be expressive?  Make sure he is not just picking the bigger stronger guys over the smaller more ones. Proper coaching and encouraging kids to get on the ball, play and have fun….this will always win out in the long run.
  • If its the case that they have been asked to move from the B team to the A Team again consider all of the above.
  • Make sure he/she is really wanted and its not just a ploy to get his/her best friend to the club and using your child as a screen.
  • The child must want to move and not be forced or pressurised in any way. Change is good but it must be his/her decision not yours.
  • Once training with the new team, ask your child how he/she feels and then ask the question again after a few weeks training with the team.
  • Do not sign straight way, make sure your child is happy and you have examined all the logistics. Speak to the rest of the family. Again this might mean less time with your other kids. 
  • Before you commit, maybe sure you are 100% committed.
  • The number one priority is to make sure your child is happy and enjoying his/her football each every week.


Slide1 copyRemember if you child is not having fun and playing with a smile then they might be playing with fear  and this will prevent them from performing at their best and this will most likely lead to more mistakes and lack of confidence.  The most important thing for any child playing sport is that they are enjoying themselves and playing regularly and this includes getting time on the pitch. So make sure they are playing that is inline with their ability and allows them to perform at their best. For sure, they won’t always play well, (the kids have off days too) just like us but once they are having FUN, learning & playing with a smile, that’s all that really counts.

Soccer in Ireland is a recreational sport, we don’t have professional academies or professional teams and a huge percentage of kids that play each and every week see it as a game they can play with their friends and nothing else.  They play because it’s FUN, they want to improve at it but are realistic about their ability.

Being a sports parents is not easy and driving your child/children to and from training/games every week for 9 months of the year, is a huge commitment. The worst thing you can do is start missing work because of your child’s sport…. because you want that career more than they do. It has to be the perfect fit for you, the family and your child……..

After all you have to consider he/she may not even get selected and let’s be honest about this, it’s virtually impossible to make a selection based on a few training session or games. Unfortunately that’s the the process and most coaches are taking a gamble whether they say YES or No… it’s mostly down to luck, nature and opinions. Rejecting new players can be just as hard as releasing old ones.

So, remember to consider your life also (you have one), as well as your child’s.

Good luck for the season ahead!


I always like to hear your opinions and views. If you feel you have something to say, please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. As always, thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

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