Grassroots - The Leagues Irish Grassroots Football

Our customers are not getting the service they deserve – Part 1

Customer comes first!

In sports the kids are the customers and the adults & administrators should meet their customers’ needs. Having elite teams at age 7,8,9 is not good customer service because we are only catering for the so called best at that time. As we look around the leagues polices today, so much of what the adults are doing truly does not serve the wants and needs of their customers – all the children involved! So, time to wake up administrators, committees, boards all these people in so called high places, who with one meeting can change the way we develop  kids in Ireland for the future. I admire you for the voluntary work you do, but really all that work is not for the better of development of the kids at play and it could so easily be!

Our leagues need to reform

The first place that reform needs to happen is at the administration level and as coaches we need to know, Who is developing and overseeing the program for children and why do we still have competitive league down at the youngest ages?

Leagues need to have more then parents, adults and dinosaurs running the game; the board for one should consist of experts about children, such as physical Educations teachers, pediatricians, psychologists and child development specialists (Coaches), not a bunch of old men that you might see down at a bowels club. Reform is needed and fast, coach power and people who really have the kids best interest at heart can push those who could give a damn out of the game for good (You have done great, but its time to let younger more experienced and trained specialist over see the future decision of the children’s game). PE teachers, psychologists understand the need of children, how children learn at different levels and in different ways, and the wide range of physical attribute and skills within each age group.

Mission Statement

I think the first order of business for any league is write a clear mission statement, a mission statement give all adults involved a reference point that set the tone and goals of the a league system. If your current league doesn’t have a mission statement already – it’s amazing how many don’t – then this is your chance to start with one.

I’m a parent, “I know whats right….”

Everyone seems to think that, “Well, I’m a parent of a kid. I know Kids” But parents have bot been kids for a long time. They’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a kid. Most parents and administrators are not trained and experienced in all aspects of development of all kinds of children. Now we see the dangers in having parents alone create and administer the systems in our game. People involved tend to look at whats already in place, whats works in the adults game and too often they create systems and rules modeled on the professional game. They seem to forget that those systems were developed for older age groups and not for the small sided game.

I’m by no means saying that parents should not be involved in the process. They should be actively involved and in fact without them organised football would not exist, but they should seek the guidance of the experts.

Quote.. “A good league measures its success by how it treats its least talented players”. In other words: If you’re involved in a club, ask yourself if your least talented player wants to come back the following year? Don’t cater to the few at the expense of many”.

The way we succeed is to commit ourselves to meeting the age-appropriate needs of all players. It means we acknowledge that five-year-olds are not miniature eight-year-olds, and that eight-year-olds are not miniature twelve-year-olds. It means we never forget that children are not miniature adults.

Where we have gone totally against what kids need and want

  • Putting 10 years on a adults pitch.
  • For 9s & 10s to be playing 11v11 is totally wrong and totally unacceptable.
  • To be playing 9v9 one week and 11v11 the next will not help with development nor does it help us the coaches.
  • Having competitive league for 7-11 years olds to thats really u7s to u12s(remember the age change is coming into effect this year)
  • Moving from 7v7 to 9v9 to 11v11 over 4years is to confusing and again has very little benefit to the kids. Also most club dont have the resources to have 3 different types of pitches. The 7v7 needs to be rolled out with structure and again must have the kids interests in mind.
  • Smaller number get kids more touches of the ball, which in turns leads to becoming better footballers. 4v4 for ages 6s, 5v5 for age 7s and 7v7 for 8s to 12s gives kids much more touches, more movement, more running and more goals.

Kids want to have fun, they want to play, they want to be moving not standing at the far side of a field freezing waiting for the ball that may not even get to them.  If their lucky they may even touch that ball more then once. Kids learn best by doing not standing around watching.

So to all the leagues out there that still run with adult rules, adult structures, its time for change, the coaches want it and most of all the kids want it!!!

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