TIGER TALES: Magical Moments – A lesson in great sportsmanship

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I read with interest recently an article on the Grassroots Football Site (www.grf-football.co.uk) about a child deemed ‘not good enough’ by his previous club who was chosen to take a penalty by his new coach. The reaction of the whole team when the penalty kick went in was a truly ‘magical moment.’

Since reading this, I made a personal vow to look out for these magical moments and have encouraged our coaches and the parents to spot them (make them?!). I didn’t have to wait long. It happened today!

Our team of U12s are playing in a challenging Summer League in East Manchester. We were well beaten last week and hoping for an improvement this week.

3-0 down just before half time, Callum scored a looping kick over the keeper to bring us closer at 3-1. Shortly after half-time our team were on the up, playing towards the parents behind the goal. Callum received the ball near the edge of the box and struck it so sweetly, it was destined for the top of the goal. The power and accuracy were second to none…as was the fingertip save from the keeper that took it over the bar. The parents quickly congratulated the opposition keeper in unison and Callum went across to shake the keeper’s hand, before getting ready for the corner!

Our team improved this week and Callum  went on to score another goal, late in the game. It would have been a glorious hat-trick! But I won’t remember the result or the possible hat-trick. I will remember the reaction of the parents and Callum – a magical moment of great sportsmanship from our club. What it’s all about, don’t you think?

This Tiger Tale was written by Tiger’s parent, John Taylor. His eldest son plays for Dukinfield Tigers U12s and youngest son has just started training with the U8s.

Interested in writing your own Tiger Tale? Contact via: sarahjohn.taylor@gmail.com

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TIGER TALES: Please don’t shout – I’m learning!

You may have seen the sign. You may agree with the sentiment. You may even have spotted the rogue apostrophe. But would you admit to having one of those ‘guts to gob’ moments whilst watching your son or daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew play football?

Respect sign

One version of the ‘Respect Sign’ located at Reddish North End, Stockport

I would; there have been many. But since first seeing the sign and reflecting on the issue, such moments have diminished to zero. The reason? It causes no good, only harm. And here’s why:

  1. Being shouted at is not pleasant. Children don’t like it.
  2. Being shouted at reduces independence and critical thinking.
  3. Shouting raises your own anxiety and stress levels.
  4. Shouting at the referee sets a bad example to children.
  5. Match day is a learning experience for all involved – children, coaches and referee.

Frustrating as it is when we can see a gap in the defence, a perfect opportunity for a through ball or a foul that the ref didn’t give, we do no good by shouting about it. I’d like to suggest that the best way we can help our children to develop is to let them get on with it and by praising their effort. Did you ever fall off your bike when you were learning to ride it? Does your child ever get their maths work wrong? If the answer is yes, then brilliant – it’s called learning! Learning involves getting it wrong sometimes. Did anyone shout at you when you fell off your bike? Would you shout at your child for getting their ‘sums’ wrong?  If our kids  get it wrong sometimes we should say, ‘great’, because it means they are learning and it is likely that they are challenging themselves – putting a pass through that they haven’t tried before; taking on a defender with a new trick; trying a long distance shot that they have rehearsed on the PS3!

The same goes for the  manager / coach. When they play your child ‘out of position’ (if there is such a thing..?) it may be to help them to learn, to develop new skills or simply be for the good of the team. The late, great Johan Cruyff said;

“When a player with talent couldn’t defend I put him in  defence so he could learn, but that could cost a point. But I didn’t care, I was busy developing the player.”

Remember too that the person in the middle is learning too. Many referees at grassroots level are teenagers, turning up to develop their own skills and make a contribution. They will make mistakes.

Reflect on the fact that it was probably only when you passed your driving test that you really learned how to drive. It can take a long time to get proficient at something – passing ‘the test’ is just the beginning.

So shouting is pointless. But I still get those ‘guts to gob’ feelings. I’m learning too. Learning to keep my mouth closed when the urge to yell appears! Learning to speak a few words of encouragement to the opposition goalkeeper from time to time. Learning to switch the focus of the conversation on the way home in the car.

I believe that this is better for everyone but if you doubt any of this, ask the children; they’ll tell you. Don’t bury your head in the sand and say, “it never did me any harm,” unless of course you do like being shouted at and it has led to a successful professional career in football, in which case I stand corrected.

This Tiger Tale was written by Tiger’s parent, John Taylor. His eldest son plays for Dukinfield Tigers U11s and youngest son has just started training with the U8’s.

Interested in writing your own Tiger Tale? Contact via: sarahjohn.taylor@virgin.net