The leagues Fuel Elitism…
So this weekend we come up against a team that is a year younger than our boys. Now, this is something I have huge issue with and after my conversation with the league this evening, has turned me to writing about another big concern, in relation to football development in this country.
When this team suddenly appeared on our fixtures, after most teams had played 6 games and more; I was interested to find out who they were and why they have suddenly been entered into our league??
Yesterday I was told that they play SSG Sunday A (They top that league) and were moved to our league (11v11) because they were too strong for the league (11v11) they had just come from. Just in case you have lost me, this is a premier team that plays 9v9 Sunday and 11v11 Saturday age above.
The league are fueling Elitism
When you take into account the amount of teams playing football every single weekend the majority play the game for fun and see it as time with their friends and an opportunity to get some much needed exercise, whilst improving. The team I coach, play 3 leagues down from Premier, most of the kids in this league could be late bloomers but are not premier level players just yet and I now most have the desire of playing at a much higher level. However, most play for enjoyment that team sports brings.
Currently the games every weekend are fairly even and the kids are at least playing against kids of the same age and same ability. Well, that was until an u11s Premier team suddenly appeared in our fixtures.
‘This goes against everything I believe in and it make it hard to be a part of it’
So, what my problem, you might ask? Well, let me tell you:
- They might be older but most of the kids in our league would not be of the same ability as the u11s Elite team.
- The Elite team are the best at their age and even by playing a couple leagues lower does not make it’s acceptable.
- The leagues say they try to make the division as competitive as possible, but yet they allow an Elite teams to play in different age group.
- We are now in a league that is NOT age related nor is it ability related.
- An underage team playing 11v11 before their time is not player development, it is club development and another way for the Elite clubs to get ahead of the rest. It is unfair to community clubs like ours and others in the leagues above and/or below us.
- Another issue I have, is that some 11 year old are almost twice the size of 9 year olds, so not only is there a significant height issue but a huge physical difference also. So who is responsible if a 9 year old gets hurt by an 11 year old??
- In organised sports age should be playing with age when possible.
- Not only are the clubs and coaches of this team being completely irresponsible, the parents have to question how is this going to benefit their child.
- The league say, ‘they can’t do anything about it’, but it undermines nature and it undermines everything that many good coaches and clubs are trying to change. We want kids playing the SSG for longer not moving to 11v11 at age 9.
- Everyone knows that this has nothing to do with player development and everything to do with adult egos and club success.
- Why should teams in our league have to be part of this? Kids don’t want to play kids younger then them, they want to play kids who were born in the same year, they wan’t to compete against their own age group not the year younger.
“So-called “better” or “more talented” players do not deserve to play with similarly “gifted” players. At below u12s, every child deserves the chance to play, the best coaching, and to play on the best pitches. This is especially true given the fact that it is close to impossible to predict with any degree of accuracy which players at age nine, ten or eleven will be “stars” at age fifteen, sixteen or seventeen”
Once again the league rules allow for elite teams to take advantage of flaws in the system at the expense of the smaller clubs. The lower leagues have now become feeder leagues for Elite clubs push to success.
If these clubs want to get ahead of each other, then why not train for an extra day or play each other in a 11v11 game once a week. Why should ‘none’ elite teams have to play a part in the success of these under age Elite teams – they can have elitism just don’t bring the lower placed teams into it.
I’m a coach who knows about program development and I think we should put stop to segregating kids, and allow all kids the opportunity to develop equally. Let’s face the true reality, the kids you see on Elite Teams now will most likely NOT be starring or playing in the future. In so many cases Elite Teams build false hope among entitled parents at the expense of destroying many other kids hopes to play with their friends and develop athletically.
There is no proof that forcing “better” players to play with those who appear at an early age to be less skilled somehow keeps them from developing their “talent.” Developing your talent is control by you, the player. You have control over your effort and how much you get better.
As Michigan State’s Daniel Gould observes in a 2004 article,
“all children need coaches who are trained to be positive and encouraging,” and that “young athletes who play for such positive and encouraging coaches have higher motivation, enhanced self-esteem, lower anxiety and lower dropout rates than children who play for coaches without these qualities.”
This has to stop, it doesn’t benefit the kids and all it’s doing is building up certain parents and coaches egos. The leagues say they want change, they want to encourage player development and age specific games. I just hope the community clubs around Dublin and Ireland will stop this from happening next year. Leave the kids to play in their own age group and keep them in SSG for longer, what’s all the rush!!!
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