So the grassroots journey begins....
Updated: Jan 27, 2022
The cold mornings standing over a local park, the countless miles racked up driving in the car and the never ending stream of muddy kit. If you can relate to this then there is a high chance you are a grassroots football parent.
When we set our children on their grassroots journey we are generally doing so with the intention of them developing improved social skills, to encourage wellbeing and for them to hopefully fall in love with the sport adored the world over. However for some, these initial aspirations can become clouded when it is believed your child has a 'talent'.
Now your child may only be relatively new to football or they could have been playing for a number of years when you begin hearing shouts on the side-line of ‘That kid’s good’, ‘Wow they can really play’ or the comment that sparks it all off ‘they could easily play at a higher level’. As a parent hearing praise like this can make your heart swell with pride but what are you to do with that information? Its imperative to not get carried away however that won’t necessarily stop you having thoughts like ‘what if my child really does have gift?’
Now before we go on any further my initial piece of advice is to always ensure enjoyment is put at the center of all future football decisions you make for your child. Football should always be putting a smile on their face.
So as the season in question continues to progress, the praise from the sidelines increases. It would appear your child is excelling at their current playing level. Well what’s next to consider?
1. Are they playing for a team in the highest local league?
2. Do they represent their school teams?
3. Have they attended district trials?
I highly recommend speaking with the team coach for their opinion. Many would have seen this scenario before and will be able to advise the best routes to take within your area.
My next piece of advice is to involve your child in all decisions regarding their football whatever their age, as their happiness is paramount. Yes it’s every child’s dream to become an elite footballer but many are too young to understand the hurdles in which they are to overcome. Moving them into a new team environment before they are ready will only prove detrimental to their development. In my own case our child wished to remain at a lower level club for a number of years (despite me suggesting playing higher) before they wished to seek the chance of joining a stronger local side. This enabled them to have some level of control.
Its also really important to not move your child to a new team with the sole purpose of them being signed by a professional club. Whilst I’m not personally opposed to setting goals, I’d suggest those goals being set at a far more realistic level, for example:
1. Your child is settling in to their new environment.
2. That they are enjoying their football.
3. They continue to work hard in training and listen to advice given by the coaches.
4. Can they establish themselves as a key player within their new environment.
If the above targets are achieved then its more likely that other opportunities will naturally follow.
If you are a parent who likes to set technical goals then make sure these targets are specific to them. A child competing to better themselves is a far more healthy process than trying to better others around them as it begins to fuel an individual growth mindset.
What is crucial to always remember is that our role as parents is to merely facilitate our child’s development not to force it. Focus on being a positive influence and ensuring you create a growth environment for them to flourish.
The purpose of this post was to simply set the scene. Over the coming weeks our posts will delve a little deeper into topics such as scouting, development/elite centre's, the professional club trial process and more.......