Thursday, January 31, 2008

Club Hunting

So I spent my Thursday night with 11 U/14 girls and 4 similarly aged boys. This was at a different club to where I was last year. I had so much fun, that it really confirmed my coaching intentions.

The girls at training this evening at this club (let's call it Club 1) are younger than the ones I coached last year, but have been playing for longer. It's weird. I started playing at 14 and these girls have been playing for at least a few years and are going to turn 14!

The best thing to see about these girls was their skill level. They're not Ronaldos and Maradonas, but they are still at that sponge stage - where they can learn turns and touches easily. As their minds aren't yet set with tactics, they will then use these skills at any stage of the game. It's great to see this 'free' football.

Such a change from the girls I had last year - older at U/16, and a number were beginners who decided to join a football club for the sake of doing a sport. "Heck, my friends go there, so why not?," rather than the "I want to play football" attitude.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't join a football club just to be social - even I acknowledge that I found football easier to deal with than hammer throwing (my other love, it's a strange mix and now I compete neither of them...) because I had all my teammates to support me. You weren't out there on your own and even the occasional, "Head-up!" when you're feeling a bit blue from an error makes a massive impact on the spirit. Part of the fun about football is that social element, it's just a matter of finding somewhere that has the right competition/social mix.

I suppose the way to define is that you can see the difference between girls who play football because their friends do and girls who play football and become friends with their teammates.

Anyway, I enjoyed my night with Club 1 but I also have another few clubs to look at. Club 1 has me in mind for the U/16 girls who I am yet to meet, but doesn't matter how great the girls are I need to be happy with the club itself. I can't see myself at the club I was at last year because of their association with a senior club I once played at (well, twice or thrice) and I know fairly well.

Club 2 is probably not going to happen due to location (Club 1 is on my way home from work and/or uni, Club 2 is beyond home and Club 3 is on my way home from work and close to uni).

We'll see what happens. After all, for some reason I am yet to respond to an enquiry from last year's club about my coaching future...


Eamonn said...

must be nice to have the choice

how would you describe yourself in coaching terms Cecilia

Roy Keane..started well but struggling

Jose..the special one..clearly destined for the top

Kossie...always wanted

Guus...I'll go with the money

Ernie..nice guy but tactically a lot to learn

I reckon Jose would be the closest fit.

What's your criteria for choosing a club/age range?

Cecilia said...

I suppose it is nice to have a choice, but perhaps I can't really be all that choosy. I need to find a club that will fit around my other commitments (uni & work), so it needs to be in a good location and accept that I can only commit to the one training session per week (and game day, of course).

While I was playing I never stayed with a team for more than one season. I would register to play for the season, and by the end I would normally have found something I didn't like about the club. A drinking culture is a particular pet hate of mine. Sure, I hang out at pubs at uni but it shouldn't be the culture for a sporting club. Especially if there are kids about. Sometimes how a club runs and the culture of it aren't clear until you join the club and work with them for a while. Hence my serial club-hopping.

Last year I couldn't be that choosy. I had minimal coaching experience and no qualifications (I wanted to make sure I enjoyed coaching before I spent my time and money on courses). I've always had quite a bit of playing experience, but coaching is another matter. Now I have one year under my belt and my junior licence. To be blunt, I am a better package now compared to this time last year.

Age range... at this stage I don't think I can go any younger than 14. Perhaps I could do U/12s, but I think that at that age they need much more skill development than I can currently offer.

I also find it hard to think like a twelve year old. I don't know what I should expect from them. Should they be able to header a ball to a team-mate? Is it fair for me to expect them to accurately pass a ball to a team-mate 30m away? I simply don't know. So I'll stick with the older kids until I feel that I can be a fair coach to the younger ones.

As the kids get older, they should start to learn a bit more about tactics and using your team-mates. Skill work would be refinement and ensuring that the basics are all there. Well, that's what I think I can do and my coaching skills are currently better suited to older age-groups.

I need to start playing again to teach myself tricks and to learn how to apply them in a game level. I'm quite kinesthetic - I learn by doing. You can show me a trick a billion times, and I won't get it until I do it myself. Hence why I need to start playing again.

Then there's also the boys/girls option. From Thursday (and my very early coaching attempt 3 years ago with Melbourne United) I know that young boys will listen to me. The Melbourne United boys were U/10s and they thought it was kinda cool to have a female coach. The boys who were at training on Thursday were happy to listen to me too. I always wonder how older boys will take it.

Also, I'm finding that some clubs would like their girls teams to be coached my females. In my experiences, the worst coach I ever had was male, divorced and had two sons. He had no concept of how to deal with girls - how do deal with our chatty gossipy nature and the fact that not all of us have football on the brain 90% of the time during training. That's not to say that males are bad coaches of females - I've never had a female coach and I have had some good coaches while I was still playing. I also get the feeling that some parents are more comfortable with the idea of a female coach looking after their daughters.

Anyway, so which coach would I describe myself with? Perhaps Ernie - I know I have a lot to learn.

Anonymous said...

Older boys will listen to you as well.

Cecilia said...

Maybe it's just a matter of being confident.

As my Dad said, if I'm a good coach the only boys/males who will have an issue with a female coach is the other team.