Aaaaaah, The Football Dads….

What a subject, that most of you will be familiar with and think ‘that’s not me, is it’?

This subject is a little bit multi-faceted (straight in there with a buzzy one for you lot that like a buzz word), it will divide opinion and there are different angles and sides. It may even ruffle a few feathers, I don’t think its offensive, just observational and it may not apply to everyone, but we have all seen this at some stage.

I also think there is a little bit of a personal element in this one for me, some home truths which some of these parents don’t really tend to understand or even consider actually, but more on that later – even if I can just change some of this, that’s all I ask.

Since the explosion of kids football, what possibly in the early noughties when it really took off (I am referring to under-fives to under-nines) we have seen the rise of the ‘Football Dad’, haven’t we? In the Dog and Duck Friday Night, ‘yeah Steve, I’ll tell you, that kid is going places, I can see it now’, – to be clear this kid is six.

Have a look at yourself mate, you absolute ferret.

Whilst I agree, he may have some ability (the kid, not the Dad) and can kick a ball about at aged six, how does this absolute moron know if this kids going to make the big-time?

Are you kidding me?

Giving your kids a little nudge in the right direction if they are incredibly gifted or natural at something is one thing, especially when your kid(s) enjoy certain sports or hobbies is one thing. However, to stand and tell a child off or scream at them when they miss place a pass, at six years old or put a foot wrong in a dance routine, is completely abhorrent.

Oh, but now with the rise of competitive football, our perceived national sport, we have a new breed of moronic behaviour.

Kids need criticism, they need to be told where they have done something great, but equally when something went wrong – it’s the way they learn, particularly playing sport.

However where we are at a new level, is these ‘Football Dads’ who never played the game, or if they did, at the poorest level of football known in the UK and stand telling kids off for shooting instead of passing, or get your foot on the ball, don’t just kick it.

I have to say, before I get hammered, there are some really good coaches out there, that haven’t played the game at a good level, but those are because their interests are different, it’s about the kids enjoying it and learning.

As they grow up and if they are still playing in their early teens, that’s when coaches come in to their own and kids start to develop, particularly in football – of course just my alternative view.

They develop a focus, a bit more of an understanding and respect for the game.

Kids need focus, particularly when they are getting older and things become more accessible to them, like sitting on a park bench Friday and Saturday night getting tanked up and consequently chucking up!!

Off topic, why do parents allow that anyway?

Surely parents know – don’t they?

‘What you up to tonight Apple? Off down the park to sit on a bench and drink Vodka until I bleed with Dragon and Surprise my best friends’

‘Well you have a good time Apple and when you see, Dragon, tell her I said hello’

I mean, come on! Is that not the biggest absurdity ever?

I get there I times when kids lie about their whereabouts, but parents must have half an idea surely?

Anyway, back to ‘Football Dads’, I propose we give our Dad a name, nothing flash or sophisticated.

Dave will do, I have Uncle Dave, and so that makes sense.

Let’s have a potted history on Dave for a minute or two, shall we.

Dave went to his local comprehensive, he achieved reasonable grades and went straight to work when he left school – fair play.

Whilst at school, Dave played for the school teams in football and cricket and the occasional bit of rugby, but his passion was football growing.

Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, Dave was never good to make the big-time and he ended up playing local football, possibly a mix of Saturday and Sunday, but we will stick with Saturday for the moment.

Late twenties, Dave got shacked up with Tracey, the blonde barmaid from the Riverside Club.

After stuffing body parts into each other for eight weeks non-stop, Trace became pregnant, which prompted all Dave’s mates down the pub to say ‘that’s you finished then’!

Now this may be the best time to bring out a good old public sector table, I had indeed contemplated a graph, but I don’t think we are at that stage just yet!

In this table below, you will see that I have given an overview of football, both semi-professional and local football, because there is a big difference, not only in ability, but also what car you drive and what pub you go in.

NB: I have not included professional football in this work, because it obvious what the difference is.

Semi-Professional FootballLocal Football
Reasonable level to play at and brown envelopes do exchange hands on a Saturday afternoon in the ‘players’ lounge’ at around 5 pm.Widely regarded as kicking a ball around for a laugh and a bit of banter. You have to PAY to PLAY at this level, which is normally at 4 pm in the local pub, because at this level floodlights don’t exist.
Roughly about 100-500 people watchAbout half a dozen people watch your game and four others going on at the same time.
Full refereeing teamJust a ref and linesman from the opposite teams
Train twice weekly if there isn’t a midweek game, but game play 3 times a week most weeksJust turn up on Saturday, normally in your work clothes after working in the morning
Isotonic drinks at half-timeFag and cough at half-time and possibly some vomit through hangover
Uniformed tracksuits and clean boots and kitWorkwear acceptable and kit carried in a Kwik-Save carrier bag

So you get the picture? There is a little bit of a difference in quality and standards.

Just to be clear, the old Semi-Pros don’t get off lightly, let me explain why.

Who are these blokes that get themselves on the telly either on a dating programme or a cooking programme?!

Hi, I’m Jordan and I am a Semi-Professional footballer.

If I was that woman, I’d be saying, so what’s your day job?

You see, what Jordan doesn’t tell the camera, is that he has to go to work in advertising sales and supplements his income with Semi-Professional Football.

Semi-Pro, is not a full-time job – absolute moron!

I don’t go, yeah, I am a semi-professional car salesman – do I?

He plays semi-professional football which means he gets changed several times a week (matchday and Training) in a pre-fabricated building, but gets paid tokens to petrol in his One Series BM.

Back to Dave and Trace..

Dave has now retired from local football career, if you can call it that, but he didn’t want it to be the end of the line after the years of playing and effort, but winning nothing.

He was proud nonetheless with his fifteen end of season plastic trophies from his playing days.

Unexpectedly, Dave was given the opportunity to dust of his Hi-Tech boots, as Jag Colts under sevens had set up a new team for the forthcoming season and needed a manager – Dave duly accepted, so complete with his lighter, twenty cigarettes, Dave took the job, however the Bull Terrier had to stay at home on matchday’s and training.

After scene setting, here comes the thought provoking bit..

Why do kids get pushed to playing football at such an early age? In fact why does it even exist?

What qualifies me? I played the game to Jordan’s level, but I my job was in sales at that time and semi-professional football was secondary, so I have a fairly good understanding of what’s required to coach and what behaviour is acceptable.

So let me shoot straight from the hip with the honest opinion!

Parents think they push their kids into doing the one thing they couldn’t, because they weren’t good enough for whatever reason – so they believe trying to teach kids ‘playing out from the back’ at six years old will make the kids or their kid(s) the next Cristiano.

Controversial? Yes totally, but it’s the truth in a lot of cases, not all, but a lot.

I know a parent that takes their six year old, nearly seven, to 2 professional football academies a week, yes two – what the hell is that about? Utterly ridiculous.

Parents treat this as they are shopping for a new car and looking at the badge alone – like they have made it.

These are the parents that drive the three lettered car brand with a lengthy warranty!

The kids involved in this, don’t get to play with their mates at school or in the school team, which is where they should be and what they should be doing, all because the parents see top professional footballers sitting their signing multi-million pound contracts in front of cameras and think ‘I want that’.

Where are grassroots in all of this?

Anyway, back to Dave..

Dave selects his ‘squad of fifteen’ from an open trial and makes his son the target man up front and of course the captain – talk about inflating an ego, not to mention his own ego.

First matchday on the following Saturday comes around and parents bring their kids in dressed head to toe in new kit (can’t be too careful these days with kids getting changed).

However the best bit of all, here he is, the main man to lead Jag Colts under sevens into the new season – Dave, complete with his t-shirt and jacket, with his initials emblazoned on each of the garments.

Who are these morons? What is that actually about? Have this people seen themselves?

They even carry a tactics board – oh mate, will you just do one! THESE KIDS ARE SIX, NEARLY SEVEN.

It’s under seven’s football, not Bromsgrove Rovers First Team!

Are you kidding me?

The next joke, is that his ‘Assistant Manager’ Tony has a jacket and t-shirt exactly the same.

What’s he need an assistant manager for? Just to take over in case he gets sent off and has to sit in the stands?

Or do you reckon he stands on the roof of the local leisure centre on the phone giving instructions to Tony, because he can see the game differently high up?

Mate you played local football, possibly for a pub team!

What about when you see Dave, Trace and the kids down the shopping centre at 2:30 that afternoon? Dave is still bowling about with his jacket on sporting his initials like a right bertie – big biscuits. REALLY NOT IMPRESSIVE!!

You know this clubs issue a code of conduct for parents and players – why? That says it all, it says everything you need to know. My parents never had a code of conduct when I was playing kids football at twelve years old.

Why do these codes exist? Some parents can’t help themselves that’s why and it’s shameful.

Just for good measure, I will tell you what it’s like shall I, as a twelve year getting ‘balled out’ for a missed place pass or missing a header?

You feel embarrassed and sick to the stomach, through fear and absolute pressure of making the same mistake next week or in ten seconds time during the game. You don’t fancy school on a Monday, because your ‘mates’ are aware of the shocker you had on Saturday or perceived shocker.

The scary thing is, parents and coaches don’t think their kids feel that – well they do!

Let your kids play, let them enjoy it with their mates, let them train and learn – don’t make them live the life you wanted just for a three lettered car brand with an extended warranty.

But most of all, lose the club jacket and t-shirt with your initials on, you egotistical moron!

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