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Grassroots Coaching - Stuart Campbell

This piece is written by Stuart Campbell, reflecting on grassroots football

A lot of people do not realise what goes into being a coach in grassroots football these days. Some Coaches may struggle as it can be too much at times. It’s almost a full-time job without the pay, a hobby that can be so rewarding. But it’s the time, effort, the behind the scenes, the commitment that a lot of people don’t appreciate.

Years ago, you could just be a dad who wanted to be a coach, contact your local club and if there’s a space then in you go. Not now, Level 1 coaching course, first aid course, safeguarding course. All to be taken whilst doing your full-time job. And again, doing it for others, to give others that opportunity to have a local team they can join.

Now there are many different types of coaches. The screamer, the Tacticians, the man-managers, the ones who try to please everyone and the ones who are just there so their son has a team to play for. Either way, these coaches are there doing something for others that a lot of parents haven’t got time for or can’t be bothered. But still feel they have the right to shout at this manager, call him/her, text them asking why they are doing things like they do?

I find this crazy. Yes, questions are asked, and everyone will have an opinion but remember this coach is there as a hobby! For fun, to try and help young kids improve. Trying the best they can. Now I mentioned a few words earlier. I feel commitment was the biggest One for me. If a coach doesn’t haven’t it, how can he expect the kids to. I have been coaching now for 6 years and loved every minute. I’m there an hour before everyone with my son setting up and normally there an hour after. I don’t want thanks; I just expect my players and their parents to respect what I do. It’s my passion and I’m happiest when on the training pitch or match days (except when I’m at Selhurst Park). We have lots to set up and take away, but that’s how I like to be. I see some managers turn up five minutes before training, sometimes later than the boys.

Preparation is another word you need to look at when getting involved. I’m no expert, but I’ve been involved in football all my life, I have learnt so much over the years, especially from my dad. He was my manager as a boy, and I’d say the best around. His man-management skills were second to none.

Making average players good and good players great. Ability is always lovely to have in a team, but a team spirit could win you games too. That’s what we had. These days too many kids turn too easily on each other, heads go down, parents screaming on the line. I get the frustration, but none of that helps. Encouragement is vital, let kids make mistakes and then coach them away from making them consistently.

At the end of the day, whether you are a coach, player, or family member, remember you should be there because you want to be. I see too many kids there because their dad wants them to play, and coaches who would cancel at the first sight of rain.

Be committed, then the rest will follow. And always enjoy it. When the enjoyment fades, maybe that’s when it’s time to step away.

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