I’ve just read the new proposals via @nlevett on Twitter and I have to say I am very impressed. If all these proposals are put through, grassroots football will change for the better.
However, there are two very big issues that need to be addressed no matter what changes are introduced. The first issue is the parents. No matter how many changes are made to the size of the pitches, goal posts or number of players in a team, the parents need to be educated or all of these proposals will not have the desired effect. Parents will ALWAYS have an influence on their children. Some parents will tell their kids they have to win and put unwanted and unnecessary pressure on young players. They receive praise and glory if they win and punishment if they don’t! Parents need to be informed why winning is not important for kids and how this unwanted pressure is leading to so many kids dropping out of the game they love. They also need to be informed of the effect some of their behaviour on a match day has on the players performance. Although the introduction of a pitch marshall could create a solution for the short term problems, educating parents and coaches about the effect of positive and negative contributions from the touchline would create a long term solution.
The second big issue that needs to be dealt with is how new coaches are gaining experience. As soon as a coach gains his/her Level 1 badge, they are able to volunteer straight away. However, new coaches are usually given roles where they are coaching some of the most important years of a child’s development, with no experience or knowledge of how to coach players of that age (U7’s-U11’s). I believe that coaches that are experienced at teaching younger age groups should be given these roles. As a result, when volunteer coaches join to help out these younger age groups, they will receive guidance in the form of an experienced coach as a mentor. After a certain amount of time, the new coaches could then be given control of the coaching sessions with the experienced coach watching on and providing feedback after every session. This would also allow experienced coaches to inform new coaches of the importance of development over winning.
Overall, the changes that will hopefully be enforced are a positive movement towards improving the coaching and development of younger age groups and I hope they are put through.