But you’re the best player we got in defence….

A young player has joined our club this season. The first thing I noticed about him was that he was very one sided plus his overall technical level was low. He has been to every training session and clearly enjoys playing football. He favours playing up front but is not really a goal scorer. He is old enough to play on a full size pitch but has little idea about positioning himself. He tends to drift out wide but doesn’t particularly like to run with the ball.

Clearly there is a story behind this player because he is so keen to train and play that I expected he would be a better player. As he is new to the club I didn’t know what it was. Last week his Dad happened to be near to me when the player in question performed an outrageous manoeuvre to try to take a 1st Touch with the outside of his right foot rather than use his left foot.

I mentioned to his Dad that he really doesn’t like using his left foot and the story began to come out.

We began chatting and this young boy has played nowhere else but centre of defence since he started playing football as an U6.

Obviously I am filling some of the gaps in the story myself but possibly this is the reason

1 – He is poor at running with the ball – who wants your last defender running with the ball in U6-U11s.

2 – He doesn’t like to take anybody on – who wants your last defender taking players on in U6-U11s.

3 – He cannot use both feet – who wants your last defender to use anything but their strongest foot all the time in U6-U11s.

4 – He has poor positional sense – who wants their last defender to move away from in front of their own goal in U6-U11s.

Apparently it wasn’t anybody’s fault it was simply the teams he has been in he was the only one who could play at the back so he got played there.

I have deliberately not mentioned his physical attributes until now but he would be one of the smaller and lighter players in his squad.

Not many Coaches on a full size pitch are now going to consider him in defence?

Why is this worth a blog post?

Firstly I don’t think any of the previous adults involved in his development had anything but the best intentions. However in my opinion there is a strong possibility if this player had never been coached or involved in organised football he would have a higher technical standard than he has got now.

Secondly I think I saw exactly the same thing happening to another boy this very weekend. An U9s game were a young boy had to stay in his own half the whole game and if the ball came anywhere near him he was told to ‘clear it’ by a number of parents all positioned around the pitch.

On one occasion the ball was kicked to near the side of the pitch and was almost stopped. The boy ran from his ‘standing station’ near the centre of the pitch so approached the ball at a 90 degree angle. He then ‘cleared it’ 1st time as hard as he could as he had been instructed to do many times already in the game.

Unfortunately this time as he was pointing sideways it meant he kicked it straight out although there wasn’t a single player near him. He narrowly missed hitting some of our watching parents who were sitting no more than 2m away from the ball but clearly didn’t expect him to do that so took no evasive manoeuvres whatsoever. The ball went so far away that just about everyone turned to me to see if I had a spare ball.

By the way he did get a ‘well done’ from one of the adults around the pitch but only one. I don’t think we need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that the adult in question might have been a relation.

More interestingly he was the only player in his team to play the entire game. All the others were substituted at some point.

Again I am fairly sure all the adults at the game have only the best intentions for this player and simply don’t realise that the way they are treating him is probably going to be detrimental to his development.

I expect everyone reading this blog has heard this message before but I am going to say it one more time.

Children are not mini adults and should be treated like children and allowed to experience all that football has to offer. Not pigeonholed into roles in teams that suit adult agendas more than the children.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts

Please leave a comment or email me seanthecoach@icloud.com

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Till next time