In this week’s column, the Secret Junior Footballer begins his foray into coaching as his playing career starts to wind down.
STILL no matches for most of us so I’m going to take you on a bit of a journey into the mind of the secret junior footballer.
There comes a time in everyone’s footballing life when you, or your missus starts to question why you do it. The dirty January evenings on the training pitch, the early Sunday mornings and the quiet Saturday nights don’t seem to make it all worthwhile and the mind turns to hanging up the boots.
I’ve always kind of said that this year will be my last so with that in mind I reckon I’ve bought my last pair of studs. As soon as the words were out of my mouth back in October though, the chairman was on to me about looking after the U-10s.
Within a month I was sitting in a dressing room in Co. Clare, doing my first coaching badge and I’ve been plotting Ireland’s assault on World Cup 2022 ever since.
The missus is, of course, delighted that I’ve decided to go down this road. Not only is our eldest as football mad as his dad, so he can come with me, but she’s been looking for something to keep me busy on the few evenings and weekend mornings that I’ve been hanging around the house and this fits the bill perfectly.
I now have the chance to mould 15 young minds into the players of tomorrow and over the last few weeks we’ve been doing just that. I’ve been a proper swot, planning out my sessions, googling this and facebooking that only for the whole thing to fall asunder within five minutes of the start of the training session when Seamus called Caoimhinn a snot.
I have three divers, seven Messis, two goalkeepers, two hatchet men and an U-9 who’s better than the lot of them. None of them want to do anything that I want to do with them and none of them feel that the drills that I learned during my intensive one day FAI course will be of any benefit to them.
Still, it’s great to be out with them and with a blitz coming up in the next few weeks it’ll be great to see them putting the gameplan into action. The whole thing did open my eyes to a lot of the goings on in schoolboy soccer so let me be the secret schoolboy soccer coach for a minute.
The coaches at the coaching course were telling us one thing about league tables and passing games and the leagues are telling us another and making my goalkeeper play in full size goals that if you were to put our junior keeper in proportional goals, they would be eleven feet high and nearly fifty feet wide. I’m happy when my lads win a game but there’s no way my keeper can be happy playing like this.
I think more junior players should get involved at this level of the game. It’s opened my eyes not only to the underage soccer setup we have at the moment, but also to the time and effort that so many volunteers and coaches have put into getting all of us to where we are as footballers.
There’s more to football than Fairview B v Cappamore. Lads, give something back to the game.