Youth Football is a sky full of dreams and opportunities for many families across the world. The high levels of wealth associated to professional football nowadays lead to several behaviours that should never happen in a football pitch.
Football has a growing group of people surrounding youth athletes, usually their relatives, called by many Sugar Daddies or Million Dollar Daddies. People whose priority is to ensure their kid will be a professional footballer, instead of guaranteeing the young athlete’s education and culture associated to collective sports.
The main goal in youth football is not the one scored to the opponent goalkeeper. The values, culture and human development related to youth sports provide the kids essential tools to face daily life when turning into adults.
Many clubs are making a serious effort to educate players’ relatives about their behaviour and attitudes and must be praised for that. Parenting control is, probably, the biggest problem in youth football, affecting the kids’ technical and social development due to the instability it causes.
It is challenging to maintain the young players focused in training and absorbing all the learnings from their coaches, when their relatives keep thinking they have Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi at home. Competitiveness is importance, but it should not be the essential driver for kids to practise football at early ages.
The most important for the youngsters should be to have fun at a football pitch, to enjoy every moment and try to learn something new in every training session, every match. The pedagogical side of sport must be the most important one until a certain age.
Any of us taking a couple of hours during our weekend to visit a football pitch and watch a youth football match, would most certainly see some parents shouting and giving instructions to the kids in the pitch, or insulting the referee, or contesting the coach’s decisions, blaming other kids for goals, or enhancing other kids’ mistake to disguise their son’s performance, alongside several other attitudes which disturb the youngsters’ development.
Making mistakes is one of the most essential aspects for a young player’s growth, but parents have an enormous difficulty in dealing with that. They are many times unable to understand that the youngsters have a human instinctive reflex to back each other up when they make those type of errors. That feeling is key for their team spirit and will increase their teamwork on the pitch, which will make them more capable as footballers.
The parents’ lack of discipline outside and around the pitch is also a great contributor to the young players’ future indiscipline. They tend to be less receptive to advice from both coaches and colleagues due to their parents’ speech based in praising the kids’ qualities and brilliant future.
The level of lightness and easiness in the parents’ speech is incredible. Professional football is a really tough road and a long journey during which you need to prove yourself every time and overtake several challenges. Talent is indeed essential, but every year we see talented players who could not make it through, hundreds.
The formula is not the same for every player. We are talking about humans, so although we can find some common ground if we look at successful cases, it will never be the same M.O. for everyone.
Resilience, bravery, focus, discipline, training, physical care and preparation… and then talent, God’s gift for some. As someone once said to your writer “It’s 90% sweat and intelligence, and only after that will the 10% of talent make the difference”.
To parents we could only ask to avoid stuffing the youngsters with big dreams that are many times far away from reality, because it could lead to another great phenomenon in Football, the failure to deal with unsuccess. We will talk about this in a future paper.
Taking the risk of copying a very famous music classic and with the needed adaptation, let us finish this way… HEY PARENTS LIVE THOSE KIDS ALONE!
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