With Saint Lucia Football currently at 168th place on the FIFA list, there is hope for the future that this could change at some point. This past weekend saw quite a few youth footballers exhibiting their skills at the closing of the 2018 Castries Football Council sponsored LUCELEC/ Bank of Saint Lucia (BOSL) Youth League season with the third place playoff and finals in four age categories.
The event in question was run over two days at the Sab Sporting Facility and one has to admit the organization of this tournament has improved immensely over the years, but watching from the outside there is still room for major improvement.
One also has to commend the parents who took the time off, perhaps after a hectic week at work, to show up to either support their very own on the pitch, or simply to stop by to take in the action.
As customary a few parents decided to stay in the stands because of the scorching sun, while others took in the excitement on the sidelines.
The action on the pitch was epic and I have no doubt in my mind that at some point these very players, once they remain focus, disciplined and willing to work hard will one day make it on the world stage wearing Fair Helen’s national colours.
On the technical aspect, I believe some parents can become over-involved in what’s happening on the pitch; although this may be your way of showing you care, one has to be wary that there is a fine line between supporting your child and over involvement.
Question, does your boss stand menacingly near your desk shouting at you when you are doing your job? If he does, do you enjoy it, feel inspired, creative and ready to perform at your best? Absolutely No!!!
With this in mind, I’d dearly love if parents/supporters could refrain from roaring from the sidelines at the little ones when they are trying to have fun on the pitch with their friends.
I heard a father shouting at his son, “Boy stop playing shit”, minutes afterwards that same boy took a spanking shot to goal, the father in question this time around was all in smiles. You must give the children the space and confidence to perform and execute.
Some parents/supporters provide inappropriate coaching advice on the sidelines; from my vantage point, this may send conflicting messages to the player from that received from the coach.
Most times parents/supporters intend to disagree with the coach; it is better to talk it through and have a quiet discussion with them at another time, rather than potentially coming across as the real coach.
Some of the comments coming from the sidelines, were, why on Earth did you play him there? He can’t play there. He’s not a defender. He’s a forward; he only wants to play as a striker. Always remember the coach is the one who sees it fit who plays and in what position.
Based on what I saw this past weekend I had to ask myself is it win at all cost for coach/parents and supporters? There is too much pressure on winning and success. No matter whatever standard of competition the child is competiting in, they should always be enjoying their sport.
Additional pressure can take away this enjoyment and be detrimental to their performances in the long run.
I am aware there are quite a few parents who are keen and passionately interested in helping their children fall in love with the game and reach their potential in a safe, fun-filled environment; there is nothing wrong with that. Now please let them play. They are children. That’s what they love to do. They take their play very, very seriously.
Just a word of caution for the coaches, always remember it’s a developmental programme and you are dealing with children, not adults. As a coach you have to think carefully about whether you demand that the players show you how much they really want to learn the basics in improving on their game as they get older and of course, the championship trophy and the goal medals that go with it will come.
In terms of officiating, the organizers, Referees and the Technical staff of the various teams must come together to determine the actual rules of the tournament. A number of dangerous tackles was allowed to go by. There were instances where the referees did not even utter a word to the players involved. That needs to be corrected. As safety is paramount.
Finally, in life no one is perfect and if all parents trusted the coach, backed him or her up and reassured your child by simply saying to them after a match I loved watching you play it was great fun. This would allow them to move on from mistakes and bask in the warm, character-enhancing glow brought about by riding on the physically, technically, socially and psychologically challenging rollercoaster when playing in a competitive team sport.