2/…The Why Behind the Ways of a Grassroots Coach

2/…The Why Behind the Ways of a Grassroots Coach


Now bear with me here as I take you back into my childhood. The reason is to highlight that the experiences we have in life can have a major influence on the values and way we choose to see things as we move forwards……

A question I love to ask is “why”. I can trace it back to my childhood and getting told off for taking everything apart to see how it works … then often realising that I didn’t have the skills to put it back together again. I remember this well because it would always lead to me being grounded for breaking another one of my brothers toys, but at least I knew why it worked and why it couldn’t be repaired .. Thank God my parents then started to buy us Lego, at least this meant I wasn’t grounded as much and got to play out more!!

I’ve always had a fascination about how one movement is linked to another and a firm believer that the more you enjoy doing something the more committed you become. In myself that commitment has always led to determination (or as my partner would say obsession) to be the best I can be.

Sport has always been a driving force in my life and oh boy growing up I must of participated in them all, from Boxing to Judo, Cricket to Hockey, Badminton to Table Tennis, and Rugby to Football. Not to mention all the various forms of the games we’d recreate in the Tenny (ten foot) behind our house.

As the sporting conflicts began, training, match days, cost of equipment etc, Football was the one I choose above all the rest. I can remember my first match thinking wow the pitch is massive, the goals are huge, and the keeper is never going to save it if I blast it over his head!

This was all well before the “mini football” format and before Academys and grassroots coaching education. Football was 11v11 no matter how old you where, except on the school playground of cause!!! There it could be 20v15 or 10 of the eldest biggest or best players take on everyone else. I was fortunate I guess, I was physically blessed, stronger, quicker, taller, I was the tree trunk. Never the last to be picked, not on the losing team very often and I had a trophy collection that I’m sure my Father loved to show off and my Mother hated dusting!! With the early years of success came the call to attend the local “Centre of Excellence” along with the majority of lads in the same team and of cause “reps” teams etc. … But for me that’s where my journey was to temporarily stop … at the age of 14 as a “tree trunk player” I quickly realised the other lads where catching me up, I could no longer just kick the ball round them and out run them, nor just push them over. I lacked the technical skill to compete, as all I’d ever had was the physical strength … I didn’t make any teams and was cut.

At the time that was a hard lesson to learn, so much so I quit playing for a year and I fell out of love with the game. I stopped seeing the friends I’d called my football family for the last eight years as they progressed and carried on with their successful journeys.. I put my head down and concentrated on my school work. Did I resent them? Not at all! I accepted it, Why? Because I knew I’d just always played to my strengths and neglected my weaknesses..

If you haven’t made a mistake in life then you haven’t made anything!! A phrase I often heard from the tradesman I was assigned to in my engineering apprenticeship. I’m still not sure whether he used that phrase to motivate myself or to reassure himself that it was ok to keep getting his measurements wrong. He was the only fabricator in the workshop who would work in metric and imperial at the same time.. mark it at six foot, four centimetres and an eighth he’d often shout to me !!! There was never a dull moment and the resulting chaos that would follow from our supervisor as he tried to read our measurements was probably why he did it in the first place..

“It’s ok focus on me, I’ve got you.” The moment when your body freezes and goes into shock … A recruit at the top of her first cargo net A-frame, forty feet up in the air. Isn’t the ideal place to find out you have a fear of heights! Not me I’m the PTi sat on the top who is now attached to her or rather she’s locked herself onto my back and I’m now thinking of ways to get her down safely. Gaining the trust and confidence of an individual, taking them past their comfort zone and helping them overcome challenges. Encouraging them to work as a team and that they are only as quick to complete the obstacle course as their slowest team member. The people skills I learnt from the nine years Army service I did, the environments I served in and the challenges I learnt to adapt too, always thinking outside the box …

Opening little windows into my past and understanding the experiences I’ve had will help you see where my values are born from.

Football for me has to be enjoyable and I don’t mean just messing about and having a laugh.

Enjoyment can be engaging, challenging and even a struggle. We’ve all been lost in the moment when we’ve been doing a task and lost track of all time, completely engrossed not because it was mundane but because we were focused. Able to navigate through the chaos because we have faith in our values. Embracing your own values doesn’t mean you have a final destination set in stone. It just means you have a vision and set of rules you can always use to refer back too.  If you have to question or doubt what you are doing is right.

My Grassroots Coaching journey is about to start…

I’m a parent stood on the touchline, my daughter is six years old.  She’s been at a soccer school for the past three months and is now enjoying the same sport I did.  Monday’s is swimming, Wednesdays is dancing and now football is on a Saturday morning … her choice now is does she want to join a team?? I’ve been asked to help another coach, he’s struggling with the mixed bag of players an U7s team can throw at you. He’s a very passionate parent who stepped forward to coach a group of children a couple of months ago. The difference in the children’s abilities and engagement levels within the session is clear to see, he’s asked if my daughter would like to join his boys team and if I’d be willing to help him out.

So it begins..

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