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Tuesday, 27 March 2018 11:39

Do not fall into 'The Comparison Trap'

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As more and more children battle to be the best at younger and younger ages, what is the damage to those children around them, who spend large amounts of time comparing themselves to their higher performing peers in terms of their own long term development and potential future participation? Potentially it is huge and we must do all that we can as parents and educators to avoid the children we are involved with getting sucked into ‘The Comparison Trap’.
 
When your child first sets out on their sporting career and are attempting sports for the first time one of their main forms of feedback is how they compare themselves to others. You may say that this is mad, but it is one of their most significant forms of feedback.
 
We know that there are many discrepancies during these early sporting experiences.  Some children are well ahead of the game due to the amount of time they may have spent practising a specific sport or they may be physically and emotionally more developed for their age.
 
If your child compares themselves to some of these early developed athletes they run the risk of dropping out of the sport too early and as parents we need to do all that we can to help manage the situation.  We can be all too quick to label our children potentially in a way that may hold them back, comparing themselves to us or other players, or giving them specific positions or even defining them on their sporting prowess in a particular sport.
 
We run the risk of labelling our child musical or sporty without giving them the chance to properly develop in a particular field. The reason for this is that a lot of time may need to be committed to improve a particular skill and we take the starting point sometimes as a sign of what they may be capable of. It is far easier for parents to motivate and invest time for their children in something where there is already some perceived success as opposed to developing areas of weakness.
 
Children need to know that they all develop at different rates and at different times and as parents we need to understand that sporting development is never the lovely line that we see in the first diagram below, but more like the second one.
 
 
Children will have periods where they plateau, where they grow quickly, where they improve rapidly, where they get worse and this is all part of the sporting process.  The latter one is a difficult one for parents to watch and see but it is a reality.
 
One thing is clear, current or early sporting performance is not a good indicator of future sporting success.
 
Think back to your own childhood, people you may have seen or played with who were so far ahead of the game at a young age but then never featured as they hit the teenage years or moved into adulthood. Many international junior sportsman in a number of different sports struggle to make the jump from junior to senior athlete.
 
There are so many stories of athletes who were average at a younger age, who never really featured prominently who went on to become far better sportsmen and women than many of their earlier high performing peers.
 
As parents, understanding this is crucial if we wish to manage the situation successfully. Many children will soon lose the motivation of turning up to training and matches each week if they are regularly comparing themselves to others and see their team mates or opposition as ‘miles better than them.’
 
This can be even more testing for parents and athletes as many selection and talent programs select the physically dominant performer, the one who is competing well in the here and now and not the one who may develop much further down the line.
 
However, as parents we need to understand how and why this may happen and communicate it effectively with our children, letting them know the following in whichever type of language we choose to use:
  1. Physical advantage – some children are bigger, stronger and quicker and they will always dominate at a younger age.
  2. Emotional maturity –  some children are emotionally more mature, can listen to coaches more effectively, deal with competition better and cope with situations in a far better way than some other children.
  3. Time spent – a child who has spent double the time on a chosen sport or a skill generally as a rule should have a significant advantage over the other.  At a young age this can be even more pronounced but that does not mean that it cannot be caught up but it will need time.
  4. Skills –  can be developed and they are not based on physical characteristics
We have to accept as parents that there will always be someone better.  However, our children need to understand more that they must not compare themselves to others! They can enjoy playing with these players, competing against them and indeed even learning from them but they must never feel a failure or threaten to walk away from a sport just because they are not as good as someone else. Not at least until they have given themselves plenty of time to develop.
 
They will never know what they are truly capable of until they have truly invested the time and effort.
 
So the next time your feel that your children maybe falling into ‘The Comparison Trap’, be armed and ready to explain to them why comparisons may not be such a good idea! Ensure they know that sport and development is a long term investment and success is not necessarily in the here and now.
Friday, 23 March 2018 11:54

Heriot-Watt Firsts do the double

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Heriot-Watt University Firsts completed the double in the BUCS competition this season. Watt clinched the Division 2A Championship way back in February when they disposed of a University of Stirling Thirds team 5-1. To add to this, Watt retained the BUCS Scottish Championship Cup with another impressive scoreline, 5-1.
 
Head coach of Heriot-Watt University Football Club, Banji Koya, expressed his joy in being crowned the champions.
 
“As a group, we are naturally delighted to be champions. Most pleasing part was the manner in which we achieved it. Maintaining our playing style and showing humility in our journey.”
 
To win the league is no easy feat, but to win it that early in the season and remain unbeaten makes the achievement even more impressive. Banji claimed that the heartbreak of last season, drove the team on to win it this year.
 
“Our expectations to win the league was determined when we drew 1-1 with Glasgow Uni (last season champions) on our ground, which gave them the championship and dented our hopes. We as a group decided on that day that our expectations was to win the league this year. From the first day we got in, the players, old and new, have all embraced the pressure and delivered in style.”
 
In terms of the performance of the team, the head coach was full of praise for his players, giving a shout out to the first-year players who were prominent in the squad.
 
“I mean this, I am honestly a fan first, then a coach due to the way they have performed. The performance level has been extremely high, even when we drew our first game against UWS, we remained calm. Another pleasing aspect - this season I decided to go with a lot of first years in the first team, they have been quick learners and have embraced our system of play but most importantly they have been good around the group. This bodes well for the club's future."
 
The unbeaten run was hanging by a thread when the Watt travelled up the coast to rivals St Andrews. The team found themselves 2-0 down after the first twenty minutes but fought back to clinch an important victory.
 
“The most pleasing moment was our game against our biggest rivals St. Andrews away. We won 4-3 after being 2-0 nil down after 20 minutes, 3-2 down with five minutes to go and scored with the last kick of the ball, really boosted our confidence. Our marksman and captain Anton Dowds scoring a great hat-trick.
 
As with almost every team, injuries are bound to take their toll at one point in the season, but Banji believes that after being faced with that problem, the team proved their worth and showed the determination to be champions.
 
“Our magical moment was away to Stirling in our 6th game of the season. We were down to bare bones, players playing out of position, five minutes for a warm up and on a difficult pitch. 0-0 with ten minutes left and young player Mathew Law - making his debut - came on and scored two goals to win the match 2-0. In that moment I knew we would win the league.
 
“In our last match against Stirling to win the league, to be 4-0 nil up at half time in a such a high-pressured game and to then put in one the best performances seen at HWUFC says a lot about the players. I can't praise them highly enough. We won 5-1”
 
The mentality of the team was put under pressure for most games, with last minutes goals and big chances being common. But a particular win against Aberdeen Uni stands out for Banji.
 
“Tough test moment of the year has to be Aberdeen away 2-1, for anyone involved in BUCS knows how difficult this is. I have been involved but as a player and coach.
 
"This was the toughest yet, Aberdeen posed us a lot of difficulty in their approach to the game both physically and mentally, but we stood up to it. Our goalkeeper (Calum Reid) made a great save in the last minute to preserve our three points.”
 
With Watt being the league champions, they will play in Division 1A next season, the top division in the Scottish conference. But Banji expects it to be a challenging test and his aim is to stay up.
 
“The aim for next season is to stay in the Division 1A which is going to be difficult due to many of our players moving on (graduating) and playing in a very competitive league. It's one we are looking forward to and am sure our players will embrace the challenge. We will aim to maximise everything within our control to achieve it.”
 
An impressive season to say the least for the Watt Firsts, to go the season unbeaten as well as winning the league and retain the Scottish Student Sport Conference Cup. This will no doubt make them a formidable force for next season with the quality of players in the first team as well as the momentum and confidence they will have gained from winning the league and the cup.
 
Next season the Edinburgh outfit will be playing the likes of rivals Edinburgh University Firsts and Glasgow Uni Firsts, a step up for the Watt team but one they will be relishing and the opportunity to retain the Conference Cup for a third consecutive year.
GoFitba is a new and exciting football-based health and wellbeing project for primary school kids in Scotland, delivered by The Scottish Football Partnership Trust in association with community football clubs across the country.
 
GoFitba offers kids a 12-week project in which, after school hours, they will go through a fun, interactive and educational journey to find out how they can live a healthier lifestyle through diet and nutrition, as well as giving them an hour of football to help get them active.
 
Motherwell Community Trust is one of the clubs involved with the project, along with local school Knowetop Primary, whose pupils were excited to start week one of the project, ‘The Eatwell Guide.’
 
 
Knowetop Primary Head Teacher, Jill Nicholls shared her enthusiasm about the project:
 
“We’re next door neighbours and the club very kindly allow us to use their astroturf and some of their other facilities. So when the club was looking to work with a school, it was an obvious partnership because we are so geographically close.
 
“Our children love football as I think most children in Scotland do and because we are so closely linked with the club, there is a natural affinity. The children are desperate to go and play on the astroturf at every opportunity, so the fact that it’s in a more structured way and can offer support is excellent and I think the whole educational link as well as the fitness and health links will be really beneficial.
 
“Any school would be desperately keen to take part in an initiative like this, especially a programme about health promotion to encourage children to take up activities, to encourage them to think about healthy nutrition, because it’s fair to say that we’re not the healthiest nation.
 
“I think the children in the school will really benefit from this project because apart from the football element, they will learn and focus in a fun way on the nutritional benefit of diet and sharing the experience of the socialising element of sitting together, preparing together, planning nutritional elements which ties in with the work in our dining hall where more schools in North Lanarkshire and Scotland are moving towards more healthy menus and we’ll be able to see that in a real life context.”
 
 
At the start of the day, the kids were led onto the astroturf at the back of the John Hunter Stand where they took part in some basic passing drills, being taught the importance of warming up and cooling down as well as some tips from the coaches.
 
In small groups they were assigned a coach each who assessed their passing, whilst also giving them tips and examples of what they could do to improve their game. The kids took the advice onboard and the coaches decided that it was then time for some fun.
 
The group finished with a game of football, 6v6 with a thrilling scoreline of 5-1. Out of breath from an action packed hour of football, the group headed to the South Stand and into the dugout area before posing for photographs in the best seats in the stadium.
 
Dawn Middleton, General Manager of Motherwell Football Club Community Trust spoke about the partnership they have with The Scottish Football Partnership Trust and the work with the kids:
 
“We benefit here from the power of football, that’s the most powerful thing we’ve got because everyone loves sport. We’ve got them out there and for the first hour they’ve got sport, something they love doing, they’re running about and tuned into the coaches who also take them through the healthy eating part of the project - so they really are engaged through football.
 
“We’re in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas in North Lanarkshire so sometimes children don’t get a hot meal, but this programme teaches them and their parents about healthy eating which is critical.
 
“A lot of programmes about healthy eating tend to be about young people, but actually it’s not your nine and ten year olds that are going to do the shopping - it’s their parents and what we particularly liked about this programme is the fact that it’s about educating the parents, it’s about financial management as well.
 
“It’s teaching parents how to cook and some of the food looks phenomenal, it’s about educating people with the Eatwell Guide and all the different elements and it really is a well thought out course and that’s what appealed to us as a Trust.
 
“Before the GoFitba project, the club and the Trust already had a good relationship with The SFP but GoFitba has highlighted the continued success of that partnership.
 
“We’ve had a long standing partnership as a club and also as a Community Trust with the Scottish Football Partnership and we’re really enthused and positive about the Partnership, they’ve provided us with some changing containers and storage containers out in the astroturf and now we’re working together on this project.
 
“GoFitba is a fantastic initiative but we firmly believe that nothing should be standalone and it must be linked to other things whether that be our community team, our football development centres, our holiday camps and match day experience. All of the work in the Community Trust is about growing the next generation of Motherwell Football Club fans and for us to get those children along on a match day, bearing in mind some children in the project don’t have access to a hot meal or the financial windfall to pay £16 for a match day ticket -  but we can provide that through our partnership and if it involves coming to our centres and our programmes, then obviously its open to anyone here and we’re delighted to be involved.  If the GoFitba project opens the doors or allows us to engage with people that we wouldn’t traditionally engage with, then that’s a fantastic added benefit to the programme.”
 
 
After the session on the pitch, the youngsters headed up to the Davie Cooper Stand for the second part of the programme. In the boxes with a birds eye view of the ground, the group learned about the importance of healthy eating and the different types of food groups.
 
This was helped by the food chart and in their groups they were given the task of sorting the different types of food into categories and from that, they learned about the right portion sizes to have and about the positive effects certain foods can have on your body.
 
Jim Chapman, Head of Football at Motherwell Football Club Community Trust spoke about the benefits he felt that the GoFitba programme brought to the kids involved:
 
“I think you can see many benefits from all the children here and not just on the activity side of things but on the food and nutrition side as well, so I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks.
 
“At the same time, it’s education through playing - we get the kids playing; a wee bit of activity which is good and then they come back and think about what they were doing.
 
“We encourage them to think about that and then you look at the nutrition requirements and energy sources that they are going to get through their food and that’s why this project works perfectly together.
 
“They’ve joined in really well, some of them are maybe a little too excited at the moment but we’ll soon get them on track.
 
“It’s the first week and to see the smiles on the kids’ faces and more importantly some clean plates, especially some foods that they’ve maybe never experienced before, so it’s educational and every part of it - whether it’s physical activity or learning about different food sources - and hopefully they’ll go away after the 12 week programme a wee bit more aware about the importance of eating healthier foods as well as having physical activity to match.
 
“Today was about introducing some food groups, and more importantly the eatwell plate and about portion sizes and the hazards of taking too much of the wrong things.
 
"But it’s not to say that the food is bad for you but it’s more about the portion sizes and that was the crucial thing today. We’re hoping to get across to the parents that it’s not too bad to have these foods but it’s how much you have.
 
“It’s a great start, a great initiative and I’m quite sure that it’ll be a very successful programme for the whole country. The most important message is the education through playing, kids will take part in any activity that they love playing - they really love football, they love joining in but the most important thing is understanding the energy and resources that go with it.
 
“Some kids get a wee bit frightened to speak about what they do, even a wee bit frightened to take part in physical activity but if we can start to show the importance of how well they eat and combine that with good physical activity then maybe that’ll stop them thinking like that.
 
“A lot of young kids get self-conscious as well and some have never tried some of the food groups and are totally unaware. It’s a massive undertaking for the children at the beginning but I think that it’s a start and it’s a message that we need to continue with - and that’s not just for the kids but hopefully it will impact on the parents as well.”
 
 
While the kids were learning in their group exercises, a healthy meal was being prepared for them.  On the menu in week one was chicken pasta bake which went down an absolute treat and ended with plenty of empty plates and smiley faces!
 
With a dessert of fresh fruit and more water, the kids learned about what they had just eaten and how much protein they took from the portion of chicken. This was a chance for the youngsters to enjoy a healthy meal and to steer them away from junk food – a key component of the project’s aim.
 
With the first week of the project over, it was obvious how much the kids had enjoyed playing football as well as improving their knowledge of the game. In addition to learning about healthy alternatives, the kids increased their understanding of what food was good for them and had a better understanding about the portion sizes they should be having.
 
All of the kids seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and were fully engaged with the programme. Dylan spoke about his favourite parts of the day:
 
“Today we were having loads of fun next to Knowetop Primary and we were doing lots of drills and then we had loads of food.
 
“The food was really nice and we learned that you always need to have a little bit of sugar in your diet but not too much. My favourite part was that we had a big match against each other. I learned that not everyone always has a balanced diet but sometimes you have to have a balanced diet and I’m going to be so excited to come again next week.”
 
The debut week of GoFitba seemed to go down a treat with the kids, which was evident by the enthusiasm and smiling face! Next up for the kids, learning about 5-a-day, every day! 
 

GoFitba is an exciting football-based health and wellbeing project for primary school kids presented by The Scottish Football Partnership Trust in association with various community football clubs across Scotland.

The project lasts 12 weeks and offers the kids a chance at the end of the school day to take part in enjoyable, physical activity. The weekly sessions provide a fun-filled and informative experience for the youngsters to discover ways in which they can stay active and improve their lifestyle through healthy food and nutrition.

One of the clubs involved with GoFitba is Kilmarnock Community Sports Trust. Kilmarnock are working alongside local school, Shortlees Primary, to deliver this new exciting initiative. Kilmarnock Community coach Mark Miller spoke highly of the project.

“We give these kids a chance to come in and train at Rugby Park which wouldn’t normally happen so the project is a great opportunity for them to do that”

The kids started off their day with an action packed training session. Here they took part in a variety of passing and shooting drills which help them build teamwork and communication skills, as well as learning different ways to complete vital skills in football.

They ended the football side of things with a penalty shootout in front of the Moffatt stand, an experience that the kids enjoyed massively.

Depute head teacher at Shortlees Heather Sabatini shared her thoughts on the positive reaction the school have had from the parents of the kids on the project.

“They were very enthusiastic, very interested in the kids taking part in it. The letters came back very quickly for the children to come to this event”

The youngsters then headed for the second part of their session, healthy eating. On the menu for them was tomato pasta and a glass of water with a selection of fruit. This is done to help with one of the key aspects of the project which is to promote healthy eating at home and steer the children away from junk foods.

Depute head Sabatini is already seeing the positive effects this is bringing, “One of the kids on the programme is already going home talking about the food they had here and the parents are starting to cook the meals we had here last week so already the parents are engaging with programme.”

An educational lesson on the ‘eat well’ plate brought an end to the day for the Shortlees youngsters. Mark Miller enthusiastically led a lesson on what they had been eating and the different food groups. He also recapped with the children what they had done during the course of the day and how this will help them throughout the rest of the course. 

Miller is hoping the kids are able to take something positive away with them from this project.
 
“The hope is to raise awareness for the kids about the benefit of healthy eating and give them advice on what they can eat and what to limit their eating of. Along with the fitness aspect to get them active, get them running about and to get that love for the game and have that done in a good environment for them”
 
Two weeks down and ten to go and it looks like the enthusiasm from these youngsters shows no signs of wavering. The GoFitba project continues!
 

We all know that football can be a catalyst for social good and there’s now a new project proving just that. GoFitba is an initiative set up by the Scottish Football Partnership (SFP) Trust which focuses on getting youngsters out of the house to play football, but crucially, also underlines the importance of nutrition and diet in living a healthy lifestyle.

The scheme has already been trialed in parts of Scotland and now features 12 clubs taking part all across the country. Kids can turn up once a week for two hours at a time – half of this is spent getting trained by club coaches, with the other half reserved for engaging lessons on how to live healthier. Sessions are rounded off with kids being fed a healthy hot meal.

Each project takes 12 weeks to run and youngsters will learn a variety of skills over that time. On the football side of things, primary school children will have the opportunity to have coaching sessions with a different focus every couple of weeks – one week it’ll be passing, the next session will be on ball control, and so on.

Stuart McCaffrey is the chief operating officer of the SFP Trust and believes the projects offer far more than a simple exercise regimes.

“The main aim of the project is working with young people and giving them opportunities to take part in regular fun football activity and to helped them to understand the importance of living a healthy life through exercise ,diet and nutrition . We’ve put together 12 structured and engaging coaching and education sessions which help the participants with their own personal development”.

“During the second hour, kids will learn about the importance of hydration, the different food groups , and the benefits they provide and personal hygiene, amongst other things such as the dangers of too much sugar in our diet. There’s also a learning journal for those involved to reflect back on their experiences and take note of what really stood out for them which they can share with their brothers and sisters and parents. This really extends the scope of what this project can achieve beyond the youngsters involved”.

Stuart continued: “It’s not just about children being more active – it’s also about trying to develop their confidence, team-building skills and working together.

“We don’t want the kids to just come for 12 weeks and then stop. By doing it at these clubs, it almost becomes a showcase into what the clubs can offer them.”

On top of the coaching sessions and nutrition lessons, Stuart also feels it is important that the children see the practical effects of these classes.

He said: “The nice part is that we’re able to reaffirm these positive messages by giving the kids a healthy cooked meal.”

GoFitba received a 50,000 Euro grant from The UEFA  Foundation for children after being nominated by the Scottish FA and a further £18,000 from the Kilpatrick Fraser Charitable Trust. The initiative has recently drawn admiration from Aileen Campbell, the Minister for Sport and public health.

She said: “The GoFitba project is a great opportunity for children to learn about the importance of health, nutrition and physical activity while having fun at the same time. It is great to see so many children and football clubs involved. The Scottish Government is committed to helping communities across Scotland to have healthy lifestyles and get more active. Projects like this demonstrate the power of football and other sports to help achieve this”.

 


For more information about the GoFitba project, click here.

 
We have recently discussed at length here at WWPIS how to manage the smaller child, the child who is technically very good but struggles to have real success due to their physical capabilities at a young age.  However, what if your child is the dominant player who experiences huge amounts of success?
 
I hear you say, ‘how can that be a problem?’ as you celebrate yet another winning weekend and trophy won.
 
Well it might be if not managed in the correct way by coaches and parents.  It is all very well and good celebrating hat tricks of tries and goals every weekend and the child being the local hero often winning games single-handedly whilst team mates and their parents stand and admire.
 
I am sure as a parent you would be incredibly proud of what you are watching and enjoying how much other parents congratulate you on the sideline for the achievements of your child. Totally understandable of course as that is human nature. BUT what is the long term impact of this?
 
At some point in the future other children will catch up physically, the sport will become more competitive, more players will join the system and the successes and high points whilst they still may be there will be a lot less than what was previously experienced.
 
As a parent and a coach we need to put all of this into perspective and always keep an eye on the long term athletic development and motivation of the child?
 
I have had first hand of experience of this with my own coaching this year.  I have had a boy in my rugby side who is far more physically developed than the rest at 13 years of age so much so that he single-handedly could ruin an afternoon for everyone involved in the experience, both for his own team and the opposition.  As a coach it would have been really useful if he could have moved up a year and tested himself against older players.  However, the system that we operate in that was not possible so I had to be creative whilst keeping him motivated.
 
I laid out my stall at the start of term that I would be coaching him as though he was 3ft 3 and 3 stone, focussing on every correct decision that he made and his skill and technical development as a player.  I was not interested in how many tries he scored but needed him to be motivated to become a more technical and creative player, not relying on his physical force. Fortunately, with support from parents and buy in from the boy we have been able to achieve this and he has still been highly motivated at training.  Of course there was some frustration when I removed him during matches to be fair to all the other players on the pitch but it remained the right decision.
 
One of the issues in the real world is that coaches focussing on the results as the success criteria as opposed to the long term development of the athlete and the development of other team mates will not manage this accordingly and will see winning by double figures a reflection of how good their coaching is.  Coaches – I ask you to think about when you have such a player in your team?
 
For parents we have a number of tips below to help you in creating the best environment for your physically dominant child to help prepare them for the long term and give them the best chance of sporting success:
 
  • Ensure your child works as hard as possible at all times  – There is a danger that if the child is winning games easily  or dominating training sessions that they do not feel that they need to try as hard as their physical capabilities will take care of it.
  • Focus on skill development and technique – Base all success criteria on work rate, acquiring skill and improved decision making as opposed to outcomes such as number of goals scored, or matches won.
  • Put them in a position to fail – then  help them in dealing with it.  As they get older, there will be much less success and they need to be able to deal with it and see failure as a valuable learning opportunity.
  • Focus on their problem solving ability and understanding – they will need to rely on this later on and many smaller less dominant children automatically get good at this as they cannot rely on their physical attributes.
 
We also have a few things parents that you may want to try to avoid:
  • Try not to allow your child to become complacent – always try to move them onto the next challenge quickly.
  • Don’t describe them as talented – they may start to believe you and become complacent.
  • Over hype their achievements – later on they may struggle to live up to heightened expectations.
  • Focus on performance outcomes – goals scored, winning etc.
  • Allow them to over exploit their physical ability – others will catch up in the end.
My final thought is this, it is human nature to enjoy short term successes and we all want to see our children do brilliantly well.  I know I do!  BUT armed with a bit more knowledge we ask you to think about how it all fits into the long term bigger picture.

Drumchapel United are a community football club based in the west of Glasgow. Drumchapel are a relatively young club, having been founded in the summer of 2005. The club are a huge, volunteer-run organisation with 23 playing squads and over 400 players registered to their squads.

Most of the squads play in red and black stripes with black shorts, giving the kit a similar look to English Premier League outfit Bournemouth. United don’t have their own ground yet, though this remains a long-term objective at the club. Currently, Drumchapel play their games at council-run facilities.

Their local rivals are Drumchapel Amateurs, who count Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes amongst their alumni.

The SFA awarded Drumchapel United Legacy Club status, making them just one of five clubs in the West of Scotland region to receive the accolade.

Last year United won the SFA's Best Community Club award, becoming the first side in the region to do so. They claimed the award based on the massive amount of work that the club does with the local community.

And with good reason too. In 2017 alone, Drumchapel United organised four food banks; set up a toy collection for impoverished children at Christmas; taught children in schools about the benefits of nutrition and health; ran Easter, Summer and October camps for their players; collected litter and volunteered at old folk’s homes. Put simply; if the club were in a position to help, they did.

That’s what separates Drumchapel United from other clubs – there is a strong focus in everything that they do in giving back to the community. As club secretary Scott Bland puts it: “For us, it’s really about celebrating what the club does in the community.”

The club prioritise their efforts on community work but remain competitive in competitions. Most of their squads are there-or-thereabouts in their respective divisions, although no major trophies have been lifted in recent years.

Amongst Drumchapel’s 23 squads are six squads for girls – if demand increases, there could be even more in the future. United even received a small amount of funding for their work in recruiting inactive girls to play for them and take part in a healthy lifestyle.

It’s not just the players who are given a chance to develop though. Drumchapel United have 98 coaches (training their respective squads at least once a week) registered to the club, with around a fifth of them aged between 16 and 20. The young coaches gain invaluable experience of the day-to-day realities of coaching, whilst learning new skills and working in a real-world environment.

The club are run almost entirely on fees, with the odd small but significant grant from governing bodies. Bland estimated that around 90% of the club’s economic model relied on fees – with no member of staff taking a wage. Everyone involved at Drumchapel United is there simply due to their love of the club, donating their spare time with no financial reward.

Looking forward, Bland says that the club must target having their own stadium and training facilities, so as not to have to worry about finding pitches available for hire from the council. The added stability of a permanent home could really help the club to flourish in the future.

Drumchapel itself has had problems with crime in the past, and Scott hopes that the work that Drumchapel United do will help portray the area in a better light.

He said: “The team has been a really positive message for Drumchapel, rather than as a dodgy statistic on the news. It’s great to help our community and show that the area isn’t what people think it is.”

 
 
Having sat this evening to watch the much acclaimed documentary ‘No Hunger in Paradise’ I felt it important that we look at what parents, coaches and any adults involved in sport could potentially  take away from it.
 
Although the programme was focussed upon the professional game and academy program there are many underlying issues regarding young children’s sport and the attitude of adults that surround themselves in it.  This does not apply just to the professional game but also to grassroots sport.
 
At WWPIS we have a lot of sympathy for many well intentioned parents who set their children out in sport without any real underlying knowledge of the system that they are going into.  Many are peaceable human beings who just get swept along and in  many ways become a product of the environment that has been put in front of them.
 
Many just want what is best for their child and anything that they do is out of sheer love!  We need to find ways to channel this love and emotion in far more productive ways as opposed to some of the ‘bashing’ and negative criticism that is currently aimed at parents from coaches and organisations.
 
There is going to need to be a culture shift.  All stakeholders are going to need to evolve in some form or another and I include organisations, coaches and parents in this. Greater education and resource needs to be in place for parents from organisations, without parents living the fear that if they challenge or are unsure of their behaviour that it will have a negative impact for their child.
 
Coach education needs to include some of these personal and social elements of the growth of the child away from just the technical aspects of the game. Coaches need to be developed to have some of these other skills and not just the ability to put out cones and coach the session itself.  The coach role should be about developing character and life traits amongst young sportsman and women as well as having the ability to make them better on the field.
 
If young and inexperienced volunteers find this daunting or just believe that they are there just to coach the children then perhaps each organisation could have someone in place who takes on this role within a club to mentor these coaches and support where appropriate.
 
My good friend in the USA Coach Reed Maltbie sums this up beautifully when he says, ‘many coaches have the hardware in coaching now but often struggle with the software to run it efficiently.’
 
From the documentary itself as a current sporting parent I took away the following:
 
Try to ensure your child gets the opportunity for unstructured play – The ‘cage’ football reference was particularly interesting.  Parental involvement has increased as there is far more organised sport now, often replacing the park football or sport that happened a generation ago.  As parents we need to encourage creativity, make sure the back garden in particular does not become an extra coaching session.  Allow play to flourish!
 
Create an environment that fosters a great love of the sport and encourages hard work –  Steven Gerrard spoke about love, working hard and learning every day. If we criticise our own children at a young age, verbally bash them in the car on the way home and live our life through our child then the chances of this great love flourishing diminish.  Likewise, we should be praising the hard work and effort, not how many goals they scored or whether or not they won at the weekend.
 
Try not to adultify the process too soon –  As adults we lose sight of the fact that the version we see on TV is the end product.  It is not a success getting a 7 year old to play this way at the expense of all else.  Great work is already going on in a number of sports changing the formats of the games to make them far more child friendly as opposed to some of the older versions of sports that benefited adults more than children.  This needs to continue and sporting environments need to be as child centred as possible.
 
Beware of the scout – It will be human nature that as a parent if somebody tells us something nice about our child that we will let our guard down and want to hear more.  Scouts have the easiest job in the world telling parents that a child is good – job done!  As a parent try to learn more, ask lots of questions and ensure that what you are signing up for is going to be in the best interests of your child.
 
Inform yourself more and ask for help and support – If you are unsure about  the system you are going into please ask questions or ask for help and advice in the best way to support your child.  Here at ‘WWPIS’ we have created an independent portal for parents to visit without fear or ramifications to try to assist in this.
 
Keep it in perspective – Family events are important, missing one training session or a match should not mean that you will never be selected again.  It is not a lack of commitment.  I personally have to admit that we have already done this on an occasion where we missed a major family event for a game of football a few years ago and now very much regret it.  We would not do this again.
 
Have a plan B –  We have the stats…. the chances of getting to the other end are slim.  However, that does not mean you should not have a damn good go at it!  It is better for children to have a dream than none at all.  As parents however we need to manage this expectation.  Ensure there are other things going on in the child’s life. Think now, if it ended tomorrow have I given my child plenty that they could also get their teeth stuck into?
 
Try not to fuel their ego – We have discussed this before in a number of articles on this site.  If we give them too much too soon and help fuel the dream, then without actually realising we are potentially diminishing their chance in the long run as where does their real desire come from particularly when the going gets tough?  Do they need to have the most expensive boots, be glorified on social media and put on a pedestal?
 
Keep external voices quiet – Try to make sure that the people giving your child the advice are doing so for the right reasons and are appropriately qualified to do so. Too many people delivering different messages can cause significant harm to young sportsmen and women.
 
Ensure they work hard at school – Arsene Wenger made a valid point that a generation ago parents would issue the threat that if you were not working at school, you would not be allowed to play football!  Keep it this way, never let the dream overtake the academic studies.  Try to make sure they are working hard at school. Could higher education attached to some decent level of football be an option such as college opportunities in the USA? Many footballers now are getting great GCSE and A Level results whilst still finding the time to train professionally in the football clubs.  It is all about attitude and time management.
 
We very much hope that you have enjoyed this summary of the documentary and the messages as parents that we could potentially take from it to make sure that our children are still allowed to dream big, but we have it all under control for them if perhaps things don’t quite go according to plan.
 
Friday, 19 January 2018 10:57

The intelligent players - are we missing them?

Written by
 
Guest feature: Russell Taylor of Futsal Escocia
 
The great Xavi once said "In futsal, you see whether a player is really talented. You notice the small details in quality, class and tactical understanding".
 
In futsal you have limited space, the equivalent of 37 v 37 on an 11 a side football pitch.
 
Futsal is fast and intense. Your mind is constantly active. It is both physically and mentally challenging.
 
In possession you are required to think fast:
• where and when to move and create space for you our your teammate
• when to pass, dribble or shoot
 
You have to be technically good and have good game awareness and intelligence to  find space, retain possession and create goalscoring opportunities.
 
Once you lose possession you are required to: 
 
• have the desire to work hard for the team
• track back and follow runners
• press at the right time 
• have a tactical understanding 
• regain possession without conceding a goal
 
 Every player on the court is involved in the game. Intelligent and more technical players get the opportunity to shine, both on and off the ball. 
 
In my opinion, the way Scottish football is structured, players with the aforementioned attributes can be overlooked in favour of fast, powerful kids that can kick the ball harder. These kids are less talented but are more productive on a football pitch at that time. 
 
Kids start off playing fun 4's and 5's and those with the pace, power and will to win dictate the majority of games. Sometimes you'd be better playing 1 or 2 a side as they are the only players touching the ball.
 
Towards the end of 5's when space is more limited and the game is more challenging, what happens? We move to a bigger pitch and bigger goals. Who does this benefit?The same process happens on the transition from 7 to 11 a side.
 
By this time, academies are full of players that have been excelling on a bigger pitch with more space. Do they have the same qualities once all the players mature and physically develop? Are they intelligent enough to break down a team that parks the bus with 21 players playing in less than half a pitch?
 
Personally, I feel academies frequently (not always) recruit the wrong players. They recruit what appear to be good players, but once you look closer a lot of the players lack in game intelligence and awareness.  
 
I believe the structure of our game dictates the type of player selected. Although we play non competitive until under 13 age group, there's far to much emphasis on selecting a winning team from 7 years old. Winning comes before development.
 
I set up a winter futsal league 3 years ago and numbers have continued to rise year on year. This winter we hav e an amazing 93 teams involved in futsal in Fife, with over 900 players involved. 
 
You may or may not be surprised to know that although the leagues have been successful and that 18 of the top 20 players in world football come from futsal backgrounds, very few people from the professional game have came to have a look at these players. 
 
The question is why? We should be embracing something that has a proven track record of developing WORLD CLASS players. 
 
If you take the time to look, there's intelligent, creative and technically gifted players out there.
On his way to an unbeaten season and winning the domestic treble in his first year in Scotland, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers spoke to UCFB about the importance of education for an aspiring coach, and gave students vital advice on succeeding in a career in the football and sports industry.
 
Speaking to UCFB from Celtic’s Lennoxtown training base, Rodgers said: “It’s (education) vitally important. There are lots of elements of teaching and coaching young players which require knowledge, and for you to gain that knowledge you need to go out and research and find it.”
 
The former Liverpool boss added: “If you’re going to be the very best that you can be then it’s very important that you can enrol on courses and that you can travel and find different ways to pick up this knowledge.”
 
Many students at UCFB are on sports coaching and physical education based subjects, such as BA (Hons) Sports Business & CoachingBA (Hons) Football Coaching & Management and BA (Hons) Physical Education.
 
The Ulsterman added that while education is essential for those who aspire to coach and are looking for their break into the football and sports industry, he believes that education must continue even once you have already made it as a coach.
 
Rodgers, who spent time in Spain as a young coach to learn other ways of working, added: “What you learn from experience is that you need to find a way in order to communicate with your players. I look to go and speak other languages in order to help people. I see it as part of my coaching.”
 
Asked for a final piece of advice for UCFB students looking for a career in the football and sports industry after graduating, Rodgers said: “Have a real belief in yourself. Be ready to work hard. If you’re going to reach the very top there’s a lot of work in it, there are no shortcuts.”
 
 
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