Really good podcast by Andrew Quinn who interviews a good friend of mine Jamie Williams on the in’s and outs of coaching young people. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/were-all-human-with-andrew-quinn/id1257100661?mt=2
At my local club we are very lucky to have great changing facilities, showers, toilets etc which some local grassroots clubs could only dream of. One day I decided to check out the changing rooms having spent nearly a season and a half playing football at our local ground and realising that I had never been in or used them to their full. I was amazed to find that these were fantastic facilities and was pretty disappointed with myself for not using them before. I also started to ask the question of other teams and coaches and was amazed to find that the facilities are very much under used.
There is a tendency within Mini Soccer now for children to arrive and leave dressed in the same clothes that they play in plus or minus a warm dry coat. The British weather can be relentless and many parents hate to see their children get back into the car wet and dirty. I have even seen some kids getting changed outside in car parks. I find myself asking the question Why?
- “Is it because most teams don’t have adequate provisions in place?”
- “Is it because all kids own their own strips now? “
- Is it because opposition clubs / home teams do not make teams aware of available facilities before matches
- or is it just accepted as the norm for children who play mini soccer to arrive ready 20 minutes before a game and run straight on the pitch for a warm up?
These questions have often led me to ask other questions such as, “Is this something only specific to Mini Soccer or is this more widespread amongst older age groups as well?” At top boys clubs and Academies I believe this is still something that is cherished but I think many in local Grassroots football from U7 – U16 would openly admit to not using dressing rooms before and after matches.
When I was starting out my football journey as an U12 , the manager had the strips and we all got changed together, whether that was in an old hut or an old village hall. Granted it was not ideal but it gave us some good bonding time, some time together to discuss the opposition and the game ahead. A chance for the coach / manager to say a few things if he felt the need. It was also good to be thrown a shirt an told you were number 7 today and in the starting the match. I appreciate the 1 to 11 starting selection seems to be less important these days but nevertheless we always enjoyed the dressing room culture. I have now been observing my clubs older age groups both male and female teams and to my amazement none of them use the changing room facilities. They are taken for granted and ignored?
Our U9 team were lucky enough to have been invited down to a local pro team Academy to play an U8 Academy development time, when we arrived there, we were kindly allocated a dressing room. The boys looked in amazement and it dawned on me that they have not really had a dressing room experience or appreciated it. Now they have, we believe to build on it by using the facilities we have and create team building and something try to preserve a culture that has been part and parcel of Football for years and years. I am determined to make sure the dressing room culture does not die at my club, although if I am honest, it most likely already has in recent years. I hope 1 or 2 other coaches reading this can relate to this and it makes them think that they want to preserve the Dressing room culture in Football.
Thanks for reading my ramble. 😉