The first of a minis series based on difficult conversations that are required between coaches and between coaches and parents.
It is challenging to raise the conversation on some subject matters or topics, therefore they often become 'Taboo' where everyone avoids the discussion completely. I do not have the answers to it all, I can only offer my opinion and advice on the experience I have gained over 25 years of coaching.
The Taboo Series aims to raise awareness and knowledge around subjects and hopefully assist people to understand the reasons for certain decisions and to help you have some of those difficult conversations should they arise.
6 Minute read
A thought provoking post where I have been reflecting the past season of coaching and I would be interested to hear the thoughts of parents, coaches and players.
WHATS THE RUSH TO PUSH YOUNG PLAYERS?
We’ve all probably seen it…
By doing the above, is there something that is driving us to prove we are doing better than others?
What is success to you? Does it mean the same thing to you as it does to your coach? Your Club? Your child?
Perception. It is a strange phenomenon.
We as coaches, have a varying opinions on all of this, and it is the job for you as parents to consider and select the appropriate club or coach that you feel holds the best interest of you child at heart.
When reviewing the above bullet points, lets consider the following:-
We then need to throw in considerations; for example, if we already start playing a game with higher #vs# and the score becomes to one sided, do we add even more players onto the pitch in an attempt to make it more competitive? i.e regulation may state 7v7; but now we end up playing 11v9...
Whether we agree or not with the rules and regulations by the governing body, they are there for ALL to abide by, for the best interest of the players.
Football is forever evolving - do we take a leaf out of another FAs book (for example Sweden) and go the other way and reduce the number of players in small sided games per age as seen below? Or Belgium? Where they implement 2v2 in the early ages for games.
When thinking about all of the above, I would also like to place some additional information into the mix to consider for all parents and coaches....birth bias.
I personally believe it is vitally important for all involved to have a basic understanding of what Birth Bias is; its potential effect in youth sports (not specifically football), and even further, the education system as whole.
Understanding birth bias, age appropriate learning for young players and doing what is right for each individual to aid THEIR development is essential.
Of course a measurement of some sort is required to separate children, in this example of Birth Bias we use the School Years from September to August.
It's doesn't take a rocket scientist to acknowledge that children born in September have been living on the planet for potentially up to 12 months longer than others.... and yet all children in the same year group are measured, judged, assessed and evaluated with the same tests, exams, or in the coaching world, potentially perceived as 'better' or 'weaker' than others. How is this fair?
I believe for players playing "across" different age bands, all coaches and all parents should understand the “Quarters” in which their children are born in more depth rather than just the standard school year grouping.
With better knowledge of this, training sessions, fixtures/games, squad selections are vital to help each child be the best they can be in a competitive environment that is appropriate for THEM.
The beauty of our beautiful game is that we all have our own opinions (and some very strong ones - myself included LOL) on vast and varied areas of the game on and off the pitch.
If the above helps anyone to think differently, or read about something they have never considered before then that's part of my job done. And of course, I look forward to hearing your thoughts or comments as always.
Club Secretary, a prominent and mandatory position within any football club.
Brendan Boyle discusses the importance of the Club Secretary role, being the main point of contact for St.Paul's Football Club, and gives some insight to the
'vast and varied behind the scenes work' that includes being involved in just about every aspect of the clubs activities.
8 Minute read
AT: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
BB: I've been in Jersey for about 14 years, I’m married and have two children. From a day job perspective I am a director at a local Venture Capital firm. My job takes up a lot of time and so there is a little bit of juggling to be done with family, work and of course the club Secretary role.
AT: How did you get first get involved in local football?
BB: My wife used to work with Charlie Browne (Former St. Pauls President) and Charlie invited me along to lunch back in 2012. We just got talking and I think Charlie then dropped into the conversation about getting involved with the St. Pauls FC.
I played when I lived in Scotland and Guernsey before moving to Jersey. By the time I moved to Jersey though, I had given up on the playing side as with having two kids and moving to a new island there were other priorities to fill the time.
Charlie suggested helping out on the admin side of the club and it wouldn’t take up too much time, so that was how it started, I guess there’s no such thing as a free lunch!
“It’s a really rewarding role,
you feel like you’re giving something back"
AT: What is the main function of your role as club Secretary at St. Paul’s Football Club?
BB: It is really quite a broad spectrum, obviously there are set things that you’re associated with as Secretary such as arranging the Committee Meetings and taking the minutes, plus arranging the AGM.
However there are many other things. You seem to be the first point of contact for any queries whether that be internal or external. For example if somebody wants to join the club or they've got a son or daughter that wants to join.
Obviously the club Secretary receives all the Jersey FA communications on things like the FA Charter Standard information; JFA meetings, disciplinary hearings; player registration updates as well as being a liaison for club fixtures, either from coaches at the club, other clubs or the JFA.
Other bits include sending recommendations for the Jersey FA Link Asset Services Centre of Excellence; ensuring kit and equipment is adequate for the coaching staff and teams throughout the season.
The list is not quite endless but also includes things like travel and signing cheques for instance. If the men’s first team are away to play in the Jeremy Cup in Guernsey, I look at options to get the team there, coach hire etc.
Due to being on the Committee, you get involved in ensuring the coaching positions across the club are filled and they have what they need to run a team.
There is always something that needs doing, we for example also have a connection with the Parish of St.Saviour as the pitch we play on is owned by the Parish. Therefore we have periodic meetings or discussions with them on various topics.
“It really helps the club to be able to get parents
or volunteers involved supporting what we do"
AT: With St.Paul’s being one of the largest and most historic clubs on the island what are the biggest challenges you have experienced within the role?
BB: I think it’s juggling tasks with other commitments, whether that’s work, family, and whatever else was going on in your life.
There are certain things that come up that need completing fairly quickly such as travel arrangements, a fixture issue that needs to be resolved, or even something that is happening that night.
Trying to make sure you do what needs doing in good time, but also trying to make sure nothing else has been forgotten. I think over time you learn how to manage that.
There was a time where the number of volunteers we had was fairly minimal so trying to make sure everything was done in time was a challenge. We found that with trying to accomplish things on a day-to-day basis and keep the club running, it felt like you're almost fire fighting.
This meant it was difficult to take a step back and start thinking about the next 6-12 months into the future and look at the overall strategy of the club.
How are we going to get better training pitch?
How will we make our facilities better?
What system can we put in place for collecting player subs?
At the time it was a challenge where you didn't feel like you're getting anywhere, but we learnt a lot during that period. We now have a stronger committee and volunteer base and there is help with the administration of individual teams, especially on the junior front, with the introduction of a Team Admin role for every team.
Generally one of the parents will complete this role and will send out communications including details of training and fixtures and if any of the details have changed. We try to get the Team Admin to look at player registrations and do any initial chasing for information the club may need. It really helps the club to be able to get parents or volunteers involved supporting what we do.
AT: As club Secretary, how much time commitment would be required each week and what type of meetings are your required to attend on behalf of your club?
BB: I think generally it depends on the size of the club. At St. Pauls we have Minis football all the way through to Seniors, so what we need to do will involve a lot more than a smaller cub with possibly a First team and a Reserve team.
It depends on the stage of the season as well. To start the season, you've got all the registrations and player subs to collect. Equipment needs sorting, and any additional purchases need ordering.
As the season goes on, you've got tasks like any disciplinary cases to manage, make sure any paperwork is correct and any potential fines are paid in addition to the annual Standard Chartered renewal.
I also used attend the JFA Combination meeting once a month but that has now been passed to another committee member of the club. It’s difficult to say how many hours a week, but I would probably say it averages around 3-4 hours, but it also does depend on what’s happening at any one time during the season.
AT: Being a club Secretary is a busy and varied role, what would you say are the main skills required to be successful in the job?
BB: Organisation. Knowing where to go for information and how to deal with it, especially when certain things come up as an issue throughout the season.
Obviously it helps to learn quickly and make good connections. Knowing the right person to ask for information, or at least knowing someone who can point you in the right direction is probably the most important aspect of it.
AT: Club secretary is a vitally important part any football club, what has been a highlight of the role for you as secretary of St. Paul’s Football Club?
BB: The highlight is really on going. Knowing the number of kids and adults we’ve got involved at the club is great. We have a thriving mins section, 11 junior teams and then the Reserves, Over 35s, Walking Football and First Team. Knowing that we have so many involved, enjoying their football and giving kids an opportunity to come and play and develop is why we do it.
We do take pride in the number of players who come through our junior ranks and represent the First team, Jersey and the odd few that play professionally. We have won many trophies over the years and to see a strong core of those teams having players that have been with the club for many years is really satisfying.
Our coaches interact and talk to each other so well, supporting young players who are ready have the opportunity to play up an age band or move into Reserve or First team football.
Also I think it's more than just football, there is the social side too. There are players who started with us in the minis section who did not know each other, years later they are still playing together. Even though they go to different schools they’ve made some great friendships at the club outside of football and these can last for many years.
AT: When appointed club secretary, what support or training did you receive to help you learn the role?
BB: I had support from Marie Browne who was in the role previously. Marie stayed on the committee and helped me get to grips with the role. I think now the FA and the JFA have some support and training for Admin roles so people have a clearer idea of what it is and what to expect.
It has changed over the years with Charter Standard Health Check making sure the club is doing everything correctly and providing best practice. This includes having a Club Welfare Officer to support everyone. More recently under current circumstances we now also have a Club Covid Officer too. There is a lot more regulation and paperwork which contributes to ensuring football is a safe environment for all, and that is the most important aspect.
“It's a really fulfilling role if you've got a passion for football"
AT: Clubs are always looking to source new volunteers, in terms of the secretary role, what advice would you offer to someone who is thinking about putting their name forward for a club secretary role?
BB: I think first and foremost, know what the job entails before committing to it. Again this will depend on the size of the club and the size of the committee, but I think that is an important one to check at the start.
Also check how many hours the role may take, make sure it is something you can commit too and that you can do the job justice.
If your playing days are coming to an end and you don’t want to be a coach, I think it's a really fulfilling role if you've got a passion for football. It is a really rewarding role, you feel like you’re giving something back.
Someone told me a while a go that the Secretary is the one that runs the club. Whilst not strictly true, I understand what they meant by it. The Secretary and other Admin roles are very much a team effort. Have no doubt though; you are the point of contact for most that goes on within the club.
As secretary you are generally involved in the vast majority of conversations where decisions have to be made. It’s definitely one of the more involved and varied jobs within a football club that you can have.
AT: Finally, how can people get in contact with you or the St.Paul's Football Club?
BB: Facebook @stpaulsfc.jersey and Twitter @stpaulsfc or my email address email@example.com
The 'Get Involved' series aims to highlight some of the roles and responsibilities members have supporting the running of their clubs or associations with the drive to entice more people to join the local football workforce
Jody MacCarthy explains his journey from jumping straight off the pitch as a player into the role of a senior men’s coach at the historic Rozel Rovers Football Club, the blue side of St. Lawrence.
Learning quickly, knowing your players and delegating and relinquishing some control is paramount to support the development of whole club. Jody describes how forming a “tight knit group with trust and honesty” ensures that coaches and players remain passionate and enjoy their football.
12 Minute read
AT: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
JM: Outside of the game, I'd say I am a fairly private person. I live a relatively simple life, family or friends are pretty important to me. I enjoy nice food and glass of wine. I enjoy the outdoors, walking especially since lockdown. I’ve done quite a bit of that. Work wise, I’ve been in finance since I left college.
Obviously football is a big part of my life. I’ve been football mad since I can remember. That Norman Whiteside FA Cup final game being my first real memory. I spent my childhood kicking the ball about, moved onto a real pitch at primary school it has been pretty much what I've known since.
AT: How did you originally get involved in coaching and why do you do it?
JM: Basically one injury at a time during my playing career, a bit cliché I know, but my body not being able to do what the mind is asking it to do. I had a few significant knee operations, which kind of pushed me into coaching a little bit earlier than I would have probably like to.
I think as a younger player I had ability to recognise a different view of the game, see the pictures. I always thought that skill lent itself to some kind of coaching role in the future.
AT: Where do you currently coach and what is your coaching experience?
JM: I coach at Rozel Rovers Football Club, looking after the senior men’s first team. Time goes quickly, this is my sixth season at the club. I literally jumped straight off the pitch into this as my first coaching role and have been here since.
AT: What is you current coaching qualification and how did you attain this?
JM: Through the support of Rozel Rovers and the Jersey FA I have gained the Level 1 Certificate in Football. The Level 2 course was due to start last summer but unfortunately this got cancelled because of Covid. That has been unfortunate but that's the world we live in at the moment.
AT: Working within your club, how are targets set at the start of season?
JM: I think traditionally with the profile of the club we've always looked to try and consolidate our league position, and hopefully try and complement that with a cup run. We've had a few decent runs over the time I’ve been here. We found ourselves in a good cup run last season, with a Cup Final on the horizon. Unfortunately, it was another thing that Covid managed to interrupt, which was shame as the players were buzzing. Obviously the Cup finals are like your showpiece kind of game. It was a shame Covid stopped the games, but that’s the way it goes at the moment.
“Whilst we don't always necessarily agree,
we speak the same football language and we get on well"
AT: How do you select your coaching staff to support you and the team?
JM: Currently we have Al and Trussey who take the Reserve Team. With regards to the First Team, we have Egg and Chad to help out on the coaching front. There is a pretty good dynamic with all the guys, whilst we don't always necessarily agree, we do kind of speak the same football language, so it’s good to bounce ideas off each other.
We all get on well. Over the six years I’ve been here, I have been fortunate in that regard. Even when I first came in with Andy and Carl, and Ayden afterwards, all good characters and knowledgeable. All have their own opinions of the game which blended I felt quite well with the way I was looking at things. They've been pretty big for us in terms of helping us through the journey we’re on.
AT: Have you changed your way of coaching or your approach working with these different people over the years?
JM: Yes. I guess principally, you have an idea of what you want and how to go about things; that might evolve over time but I think the underlying remains. As a player, I always had an idea or opinion of how I thought things should run, so I tried to take and implement those ideas straight onto the training pitch, which probably meant that in the early days it was my way or the highway type thing.
But obviously the game is about opinions. Everyone's always got an opinion! It's about being able to take those opinions from guys that you trust and work out the best way of doing things. It’s like in life I guess, you're always learning. So those five guys that I mentioned there, I've learned a lot from them, from working with them, to be able to be where I am now. And in the early days, I was not so good at that. However, I have learnt and continue to learn how to let go and hand over control a bit more.
“Take those opinions from guys that you trust to
work out the best way of doing things"
AT: How do you identify new players to be part of your squad?
JM: This season we've managed to get an Under 18s side back in the frame again, which is really good. Some youngsters have had a shot this year at the First Team and the Reserve Team football and that is great for both the numbers of players we have to choose from and it’s been great for the older players to see these kids coming through. It creates a bit more of a spark around place, which is really good.
In terms of recruitment, I'd say we're a tight knit club. Recruitment wise you're always trying to look for the right blend between a good player, and the right kind of player to fit in with the group. We want to make sure the positive group dynamic stays the same or improves.
That's one of the strengths that we've got, a good bunch of lads. While trying to find new signings that are the right personality to not disrupt the squad, whilst also making it challenging and spicing things up.
Recruitment can be a difficult one. Certainly locally you've only got a limited pool of players. It's not easy to identify a certain profile or a certain attribute. Guys that you think might give you something you may be missing. It is often difficult to try and get them in as there's a good handful of other clubs trying to do exactly the same thing.
AT: Once you have an established squad, how do you go about planning your pre-season training program? What does this involve?
JM: I guess I alluded to it before, you always have to evolve. Certain things that you thought were the right way to go about in the first season, you might hold onto some of those ideas because they work but a lot will have changed or developed over time. Trying to find out what works well for the players both in a physical sense whilst also trying to speak to players to make sure it’s interesting and exciting for them, to ensure you get a high level of enthusiasm and motivation.
Some people love running the sand dunes, running down the front, doggies etc and some people are the polar opposite. They don't want to do that so it's trying to find the right blend. We discuss what we think is the best approach and how we stage it. Its Amateur football, pre-season can be an issue as you rarely have the whole group together at any one time. Summer holidays and other commitments mean that you don't always have that privilege.
AT: Do you have a favoured formation? What is it and why? If not, why not?
JM: I think it's a lot of it is player driven, in terms of what attributes you have within your group. How do you find the best way to get those get those firing. You can't be married to a formation because there's so many different factors that influence team selection and the way you set teams up to play. The main thing is to try to maximise those attributes in the best possible way.
AT: Do you have a playing philosophy or way of playing that others identify as a Jody MacCarthy team?
JM: I guess a Jody MacCarthy team is a Rozel Rovers team as this has been my coaching exposure so far. Most people would probably comment that we're pretty well organised. We like to move the ball around when we can. When players go out onto the pitch they understand their roles and know what's expected of them. Those bits are key working at our level.
I think it's important that we go out there with a bit structure and a bit of organisation, but within that framework you've also got to let the players express themselves as best they can. Trying to find that balance between what it looks like for the group and how to get the best out of the individuals.
AT: How do you identify what topic your practice session will be based on and what is your process of session planning?
JM: In terms of delivering, delegation and preparation there's always conversations with the coaching staff. What we need to cover off the back of observations from our previous games or training sessions, or something specific for a particular game that we've got coming up.
If we know there's a team that plays in a specific way, we might have to adapt our approach, or if there's something that's caused an issue for us previously, then we'll try to work hard on fixing those issues.
Obviously there's an underlying way that you want to play and this will drive a lot of your sessions, but you've always got to have eyes on the Saturday fixture because you can't afford to sell yourself short, when it comes to game day, as that is the most important part.
AT: What do you believe players can expect from being involved in one of your practice sessions?
JM: Hopefully sessions will be fun, sharp, with lots of touches on the ball. An enthusiastic approach with observation and insight to help us along. I guess that fundamentally, for me as a player, that's the kind of approach which would motivate me so that’s my approach as a coach. So if I get all that, the rest we can add. (Tactical knowledge etc)
AT: Do you have a set match day routine you follow?
JM: Yes as I think that's important, so you don't have surprises. You've always got that structure, you know what you're working towards.
We have a framework that works, we know what time the players arrive, we build in time for players to have that social connection before we start, as we think that is important too.
Also giving yourself the opportunity to speak one on one if it is needed. Give a pep talk to the different units in the team and give players reminders or prompts whilst warming up because most of the work is done during the week at training.
“People don't really like having those difficult conversations.
I think as long as you are being fair and honest with people they respect that"
AT: Part of the coach role is managing conflict. As an example, how do you handle an irate player questioning their playing time?
JM: Dealing with people is part of the game. It’s the best part, but also the most difficult part. I believe honesty is the most important thing. Over time, there are numerous difficult conversations and people don't really like having those difficult conversations. I think as long as you are being fair and honest with people they respect that. Again, flipping it around, if I'm in the player's shoes, all I would want from the manager or coach to be fair and honest.
AT: Throughout the season almost every coach will experience their team having a dip in form or something is not quite working. How do you try to resolve these moments?
JM: The most important thing is that you trust yourself and you believe in what you're doing and trying to achieve. When it's not going well, I think it could be easy to listen to everyone else's opinion. There's going be times where, if you are in the Manager role and everything rests on your shoulders, you have to be really sure in yourself and the decisions that you're making.
Sometimes you need to block out some of the noise that's going on because that may generate a bit of discontent or chat. Whether that’s at player level; people watching the games; spectators outside the club; or even people in within it. That’s not to say it has necessarily has been the case for us but it can happen, that’s football. So I think balance is key.
AT: In your experience what is the most difficult or challenging aspect of being a coach?
JM: The biggest challenge is what I touched on before, it’s the people. You think you understand people, and then there's that moment when you realise that you don't. We've got a really great bunch of lads and everyone has their own story. Everyone's their own person and each of these people present different challenges.
Within the first team squad there are 20+ players, and then there is a wider framework if you include the Reserves and Under 18s, so you are looking at 40-60 players. 40-60 people that you have to interact with on the individual basis, making sure we can get the best out of each one of them, that is what I would say is the most challenging aspect
“As a coach you can supplement that learning and development with your words, your knowledge
and your actions"
AT: How do you and your coaching staff measure progress?
JM: Ultimately the biggest, most obvious marker of progress is your results especially at senior level. As you move through the age groups, the older you get the more results driven it becomes.
People will ask what’s your trophy count? Where did you finish in the league? However some measures are intangible, because you look at some of the players that you've worked with over a period of time and you can contrast where they started with you and where they are now.
Obviously a lot of that is on the player themselves because the players are always developing the more they play, and the more the practice. As a coach you can supplement that learning and development with your words, your knowledge and your actions.
“It's brilliant and so rewarding"
AT: What do you believe is the most rewarding aspect of coaching?
JM: It’s definitely seeing the development in players whether that be as individuals off the pitch or as footballers on it. Or both.
When you can help someone get through a little problem, whether that be on or off the pitch and you see it workout positively, it's brilliant and so rewarding.
AT: What is your personal ambition as a coach?
JM: I love what I’m doing now. It’s a great club, great lads, and really great support from a well-run club. It is like anything you're doing, if you want to do it, you want to do it at the highest level possible. I guess being the best you can be within the framework that you have. That personal ambition is to be to be the best that you can be wherever that is, whether it's amateur football or at Manchester United, just to be the best version of you.
“As a player, myself included when I was playing,
sometimes you don't often appreciate that"
AT: For anyone thinking of getting involved as a coach in senior mens football, can you provide a typical week in the life of a coach? What tasks you complete behind the scenes?
JM: For anybody on the outside looking in, I think you hear a lot of talk like it is the football management computer games.
Putting your 11 players out on the pitch is a small part of what the coaching role entails. You’ve got your session planning to do ensuring you are going into every Tuesday or Thursday knowing exactly what you’re dealing with and what you want to deliver, with your ultimate aim on the Saturday match.
Looking at how people are going to get into the team and what's going to be the best team to pick. Everything is ultimately geared towards putting the 11 players on the pitch but there's much more to it than that.
Behind the scenes, the club have a Committee Meetings every month that I try to attend and give feedback.
Personal interaction with players. I’m in contact with players frequently. There’s always a conversation with somebody about something.
As a player, myself included when I was playing, sometimes you don't often appreciate that. You turn up on Tuesday. Do your session. Your turn up Thursday, do your session. Then you have your game at the weekend. Not really taking on board everything else the coaches do, the conversations, planning and preparation involved away from the pitch.
AT: All clubs on the island are always on the look out for new coaches to support the development of players and the club as a whole. What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about getting involved but are yet to take that first step?
JM: Just go for it! It is so rewarding. If you've got good people around you, which I’ve been fortunate enough to have, and also the players that are playing for us.
At committee level, really, really good guys that have been there for us, through thick and thin. If you've got people that you can rely on that you can trust, then that will be a massive help going into coaching.
AT: Finally, how can people get in contact with you or the Jersey Football Referees Association?
JM: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rozelroversfc.co.uk
The 'Get Involved' series aims to highlight some of the roles and responsibilities members have supporting the running of their clubs or associations with the drive to entice more people to join the local football workforce
Luke Nerac, a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur who "just helped out" running the line for a friend, talks about his learning journey to becoming one of the most recognised and well respected Men in Black.
A role football simply cannot do without, Refereeing in Jersey is on a upward trend building mutual Respect and positive rapports with players, managers and clubs around the island.
The support, guidance and mentoring of new trainees that is currently on offer and has never been better as the Jersey Referees Football Association Secretary explains.
11 Minute read
AT: Please tell us a little bit about yourself...
LN: Away from football I work in Unit Trust Settlements within the Finance Industry. I’ve been a member of St.John Ambulance since 2000, and have recently been involved in the antibody testing and the vaccination centre.
Within football, I have been qualified as referee since 2009 and I'm also The Secretary of Jersey Football Referee Association, which is a members organisation, mainly concerned with welfare of referees, and development of referees. Away from refereeing I’m a season ticket holder with Tottenham Hotspur, where you’ll find me regularly during non Covid times.
AT: At what stage did you decide wanted to become a referee?
LN: I’m not sure I did if I’m being honest. I used to help out Jamie Bara with first aid when he was managing at St. John's Football Club. He asked for my help to do the linesman role for the final 10 minutes of one game, so I did. The following week I did 20 minutes. Then the week after that a full half on it went.
I ended up running the line every week, and a referee called Neil Giannoni had seen me doing it regularly for the club and suggested I should do the referees course. I told him that there was no chance in hell that I was going to do that. A couple weeks later he saw me again and said that he was putting me down for the course. I went along to the course to learn a bit more but with no actual intention of refereeing.
AT: Once you had made your decision to go on the course, what was the course like and the process for you to become qualified official?
LN: It’s changed since I took it, but back then we did the course once a week over a 10 week period. You had 6 mentored games and then you took a test at the end of it. That course was quite successful because four out of five of us went out and refereed regularly and currently three of us; Gareth Bayley, my brother and I; are still refereeing.
Now, the course is over a weekend. A lot more focused the practicalities of doing the job as well as the laws of the game. Once you're finished you have 5 mentored games as a minimum. In Jersey we try and do a bit more than that if we can, especially for the younger trainees.
On the weekends the course is now based at Springfield. We try to use this opportunity to get the trainees out and referee the games there in the afternoon, so it's all geared around practical learning and doing the job by trying it out first.
AT: Once you've done your coursework and you've completed your mentored games, what does the test or assessment look like?
LN: The test itself is a multiple-choice exam. There's no you need to write paragraph and paragraph. There is also a portion of the exam that is a video clip test where trainees make a decision based on what they've seen on screen.
"Throwing yourself into the middle with little to no
experience can be scary that first time"
AT: Looking back at your first match as the newly qualified man in the middle, how did you feel and what was that first experience like?
LN: My first game was for U14s up at La Hague. It was quite a scary experience as a newly qualified 19 years old who was given a whistle and told to go and do a game. Paul Daniel was there as a Mentor, but throwing yourself into the middle with little to no experience can be scary that first time.
I started with mostly junior games and did a handful of senior games during that first season. However, it all depends on the person, I mean if you have somebody who is under 16 and there's only so much they can do by regulation. If you've got a older person who is a bit timid and needs a bit more support or time to grow in confidence, we would probably give them a few more junior games first. On the flip side of coin, if you have someone who's really confident and happy to go out there and try a senior game, they may move into senior football quite quickly. As an example being Vitor Antunes who has progressed quickly into the senior game and has done well.
AT: For the first time that I can remember in the past 20+ years since I’ve been involved in the game, it feels like during the past 12-18months there has been a real uptake and interest in the role of Referee, can you provide an update on this?
LN: We're up to 41 referees at the moment, which is good, as the number has regularly sat around the18-25 mark. Last season we only had 18.
The guys that come through have progressed quickly. Obviously within that we have a few younger trainees that cannot do senior football yet, but if we help development them over the next few seasons by the time they step into senior football at the age of 17/18 they will have 2-4 years experience behind them already.
AT: Bringing it back to you, since that first game, you have gained vast knowledge and experience. What has been the highlights of your career to date?
LN: One of the biggest highlights was the Island Games held here in Jersey. There was no way I would have ever been involved with the Island Games in any sport, without refereeing. We had referees from the mainland attend and it was a great week with them providing us lots of advice and guidance.
Last year I went to the Football Games held in Ynys Mon, Anglesey. Jersey sent a team, including Andy Norman and I, and we had a great week. Andy and myself were picked for the final as Assistant Referees. The atmosphere was electric, with around 3,000 people watching. It was such an amazing time.
A continued highlight is travelling to Oslo to referee every year. Andy Cox encouraged me to go with him one year. You meet a lot of new people and you get to work with people from all over the world. I've worked with Iranian, Kenya and Brazil referee teams and one year I was on the line for a game between two U16 teams from Brazil and Mexico. Lots of different experiences that you wouldn't get solely refereeing local teams, such as dealing with people who don't speak any English which can sometimes be a challenge.
AT: What has been the most challenging moment you have had whilst officiating?
LN: A couple years ago now, I had to deal with an incident that happened off the ball that I didn't hear or see. The game had actually gone well for the first 65 minutes or so, and then from that point it become quite challenging to manage finishing with 2 reds and
8 yellow cards; a few misconducts to report after the game, and to report the actual incident as well.
Its one of those games you come away from thinking “What if I had just turned around at that moment? What if I had just seen what had happened?”
You reflect and question everything you did during the game. It’s possible that there is nothing you could have done differently; equally though, there’s probably something I could have done differently. It’s one of those games I won’t ever forget, but it goes down as part of the learning process and you have to pick up different skills from it for the future.
AT: You’ve touched on learning skills there in challenging circumstances. There are obviously many skills required to keep control of the game and ensure the team benches and spectators adhere to the Laws of the Game. What do you believe are the key skills or competencies required to be a good official?
LN: Skills wise, there is a lot you can learn, we do not need a perfect person when we recruit. I think that there are three abilities that are quite important:
"We have been presented with a lot more developmental opportunities, next week we have Anthony Taylor who has refereed 2 FA Cup Finals providing us with training via zoom"
AT: The majority of people think the Referees role is solely in the middle of the pitch running the game, however there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes too. Can you summarise some of the work that goes on behind the scenes and the relationship between the Jersey Football Association and the Jersey Referees Football Association?
LN: Years ago we were left to own devices but since Brian Oliver (Jersey Football Development Officer) has come in and is working along side Paul Kemp (Jersey Referee Development Officer) its created a good relationship between the Associations.
We have been presented with a lot more developmental opportunities for example next week we have Anthony Taylor doing training via zoom for the referees on the island. Anthony has refereed the FA Cup Final twice and is the first referee in 100 years to do that.
We have a six week series of workshops coming up for Referees and Observers/Mentors via Zoom with Trevor Massey, who ran the line to Mike Dean in the 2008 FA Cup Final.
The FA have been in touch with league that the Jersey Bulls play in and there is potential at some point for a Jersey referee to work in that league too. I’ve used this opportunity already - working with a different officials team and a different level of football. That’s with the help and support from the JFA.
Members of the JFRA get together monthly. During some of the meeting we use the time to view videos and talk about different incidents. We can discuss what's happened and give advice. There is a range of experience from Level 4 qualified referees to newcomers. We also get zoom calls pencilled in with experts from the UK, and this has been a big thing developmentally for us.
AT: The Referee Development Centre for young people is proving to be a valuable asset to JFA. Can you tell us what is offered in terms of support to a young person wanting to learn how to Referee?
LN: The idea for creating the Referee Development Centre came from Brian Oliver and Paul Daniel. Most weeks will start with some theory, or with a practical session whenever possible. This then it goes on to a game that is watched by mentors and coaches.
We have young referees like Harry Walker who have been through the Referee Development Centre now coming back and helping us mentor the new trainees. It’s a supportive learning environment for young people, where our young recruits are able to make mistakes and it's safe for them to do so.
During development fixtures Mentors have the chance to liaise and interact with the young trainees at the quarter or thirds break; or half time depending on the game format. We give constructive feedback in way that the group feels comfortable to speak up, question and understand various aspects of their decisions and various key moments in the game. Are they in the right position? What was their view on it? Why did they come to a certain decision? All supporting their learning journey.
It’s not just about what they learn on the pitch. So much of it is about their attitude off the pitch as they are held to a high standard, which, to be fair to them, they strive to reach and exceed in doing.
AT: What is the career pathway for officials to go from Grass Roots to full time Premiership should they desire too?
LN: You start as a Level 9 trainee. Once qualified, if you are aged 15 or younger you become a Level 8 referee. If you are aged 16 or older you start at Level 7. You can apply for promotion from Level 7, to 6, to 5 and this will include several observations.
For Level 4 referees the criteria changes to include a fitness test and ensuring you give something back to the community and the game. So for example, for me its being the Secretary for the JFRA. Anything higher than Level 4, obviously the level of competition involvement has to be higher and is not something we can offer in the Channel Islands. If you’re looking at trying to get into the Premiership top 20 referees you’re up against 8,000 referees to do so.
AT: As we are aware there is a course coming up in the next couple of weeks, for anyone thinking about taking that first step, what advice would you give?
LN: Trevor Massey will be coming over to complete the course hopefully on the 5th February but this may change due to Covid, and he will be supported by our FA Tutors. Currently there are 6 people confirmed as registered so far. Hopefully if we can have as many as possible if not all of those 6 refereeing regularly it will be another boost for the local game.
Advice wise, just give it a go and enjoy it! From experience I can definitely say there are so many more good times than there are bad times. There is so much support in the background that people just don't know about, that’s from formal observations, mentoring - most of us are at a game watching and giving guidance, or asking what you think of concerning X,Y,Z? I have both asked for and givenadvice. Most of the referees are happy for you to call them and talk through a decision to assist you to improve and provide their perspective.
It is noticeable that football has moved and gone down the road of being a lot more developmental and supportive which can only benefit everyone.
AT: Finally, how can people get in contact with you or the Jersey Football Referees Association?
Please contact our Referee Development Officer Paul Kemp by calling 01534 730433 or email email@example.com.
The 'Get Involved' series aims to highlight some of the roles and responsibilities members have supporting the running of their clubs or associations with the drive to entice more people to join the local football workforce.
Jersey football is fantastic.
Through the governance and support of the Jersey Football Association there are so many opportunities to get involved in local football.
Whether it be on the pitch, on the sidelines, behind the scenes or on a club committee - there is alway something that needs to doing. And every club is always on the lookout for any help that you can offer.
The 'Get Involved' series aims to highlight some of the roles and responsibilities club members have to support the running of their clubs and entice more people to join and support a local club.
By understanding what certain roles are, who does them and how much time it takes - I hope that in some small way we can encourage more and more people to step up and get involved in the future.
If you are a Club President, Secretary, Treasurer or Club Welfare Officer would you like to explain a bit more about your role?
Are you a senior coach, a youth coach, a referee, a player, a grounds-person? Are you in charge of fundraising or sponsorship? or do you have any other role that benefits the running of your club or local football?
With your help, I would love to catch up over a cuppa (virtually or outside adhering to Government guidance of course!) with the wide variety of people involved in local football and gather your experience directly to share with the local footballing fraternity and wider audience.
If you would like to help raise the profile of local football even further and have an opportunity to highlight some of the amazing work that goes on around island then please drop me a private message and we'll take it from there.
I look forward to hearing from you and promoting the passion we have for the local game.
"I have always believed that you succeed as part of a team effort.
I’ve learned that if everybody does a little bit, it adds up to a lot”
Festive fun... the elf on the shelf shaved my hair! (Well I was losing it anyway!).... now thats out of the way....
So just when I got some real clarity in my mind on session planning, delivering and reflection at what is UEFA B level (its taken some time) we had to put the brakes on everything in March 2020.
Obviously with all that is going on in the world at this time this course has been the least of our worries! However, a recent meeting and with the FA & JFA has given us renewed optimism that we can continue our learning journey and complete this Level 3 UEFA B course. Its been quite a ride!
A huge thank you to Adam Furness for all his support, I wish you and your family well for the future. Also a big thank you to Brian Oliver for his work behind the scenes helping the 'Jersey Boys' had the opportunity to finish this course with new tutors Mark Leigh and Peter Augustine.
Session plan on "Creating and Scoring through the Number 10" coming soon. Laces crossed we can all get back to doing what we love very soon!
An early Christmas present!
Strongly recommend listening to Brendan Rodgers talking about Coach development, player development from grass roots U9 through to the seniors at clubs such as Watford, Swansea, Liverpool, Celtic and Leicester City.
@robbiesavage8 even gets some mentoring and support developing his U15 players.
A fantastic lesson with golden nuggets all over for aspiring coaches and players. Well worth an hour of your time
Talent Takes Practice - Brendan Rodgers
My Core Values
To encourage a life long love of sport!
By being a positive role model by meeting with parents and children on arrival; introducing them to coaching staff; building relationships by communicating with parents what GS United is about and who we are; allowing parents to observe sessions; ensuring children and their parents feel safe and secure in a positive, fun and engaging learning environment. Modelling good behaviour
Child development first, football second.
By focusing on the individual person and supporting their learning of life skills through football (holistic approach) by using the FA Four Corners model and having a philosophy built around development.
Ensuring coaches follow our ‘Best Practice Policy’. By developing positive relationships through effective communication gaining trust and understanding. Shake hands policy for all players and coaches, ensuring coaches meet and greet every player on arrival getting to know the player by talking about other things in life aside from football. ‘
By gathering more knowledge to help educate all involved. Having a professional approach and dedication to learning, striving to be better always. Growth mind set. By attending CDP events, Webinars and being a member of FALCC I cascade information to parents and players through writing articles and passing on information from the FA through Social Media and email.
By being prepared. By planning, organising, delivering and reviewing with players, parents and coaches to ensure all are included. Self reflection. Encouraging the same in others. By responding quickly and appropriately to any queries; Plan, Do, Review practice sessions with coaches and players giving feedback. By working to improve on all aspects of coaching.
By having the moral and ethical conviction to do the right thing. Setting an example. By ensuring all registered players’ parents complete Codes of Conducts and challenging inappropriate behaviour swiftly and effectively.
Game Sense United Football Club was formed in January 2015 with the desire to reach out and introduce, involve and educate players from all walks of life in a fun safe environment. We aim to provide football opportunities for young players of all abilities to play and enjoy the game.
Through the support of the Jersey Football Association GS United Football Club was formed and obtained the FA Charter Standard kitemark.
GS United success development program has meant that our club has expanded year on year from 9 players to currently over 60 players. We provide football from Reception Class currently up to Under 12s.
"Hi Aaron, thought I would just drop a line to say how good the lads were today. A great team performance today with not just individual performances but the team play and build up was a joy to watch.
A thoroughly entertaining game and you could just see the confidence growing within the group. I thought that the opposition would come on stronger in the latter part of the game but it was not the case and the way GS kept their shape and responded after being 2-1 down was a credit to them.
But even more so, a huge credit to you guys for the work you are putting in to them is starting to really show on the pitch. It was an excellent all round performance and long may it continue. Terrific stuff, well done”
All our junior coaches appointed agree to work within the Coaches Best Practice Policy at
GS United Football Club.
As with any method of teaching, its success is based upon the coaches who deliver it.
The following notes are to assist our coaches with the successful delivery of their practice sessions and to also provide further information to players and parents on what to expect from GS United Football Club.
"Fantastic club, Daniel is thrilled with all coaching sessions, and he cant wait for Sunday's just to be able to train it is really that good. Also, he did improve a lot with his skills, and football in general. Highly recommended for all kids!"
"They were great, really good to watch they're attitude throughout was brilliant. There has been huge improvement in they're overall game management and they are playing with a bit of confidence and belief and most importantly they're playing as a team. You as coaches must be delighted as all your hard work is really starting to pay off”
The biggest influence on my Coaching/Football career was Alan 'Micky' Porter. Without going into further detail here and now, I have already written an article about Micky that you will be able to read about on https://acoachesview.weebly.com/blog/coaching-influences-1. A local legend, and an inspirational man.
The next influence at a young age was Mr Charlie Daze. This blog entry can be found here https://acoachesview.weebly.com/blog/coaching-influences2
Coaching Influences - Tony Hoyland
Tony was the first senior coach really acknowledged as someone with a good understanding of the game and someone who understood a variety of tactics. Having returned from travelling in 2002 I played under Tony at St.John FC for a couple seasons where we secured promotion and a cups. Injury though blighted my time as a player however I was always impressed and respectful of Tony’s coaching.
We always discussed Tactics and Set Plays and as a player, he gave me freedom to play. Even when he put me as sweeper for the first time ever in a cup final! The main thought that comes to mind was when Tony introduced us to the 1-3-3-1-3 system with a very high press. Something I had never seen before and a system I enjoyed playing in and reading about. Tony was never afraid to try something new or do something different to others and I believe that during this time gave me the courage to do the same. (ie playing 3-4-3 with my junior teams when everyone at the time was playing 4-4-2). A top bloke.
Coaching Influences - Jim Kelman & Richard Horner
Jim Kelman - A brief period back in 2004 completed the first ever Level 2 CCF in Jersey was an experience I’ll never forget. Grainville Playing fields, 10 consecutive and intense days of learning with a man whose technical knowledge of the game was unbelievable!
The most difficult and challenging course I have ever been on. A total eye opener into the world of coaching. Jim pushed us hard to learn a great deal in a short amount of time. I still refer to his booklet even now! This short interaction influenced me massively and I guess stoked the fire even more to make me want to become one of the best coaches in the island.
Richard Horner - A very articulate tutor! I returned from Australia in 2010 probably a little too confident in myself. Several years of successful trophy winning with St.Pauls, developing a strong Academy for ID Elite/Grouville FC meant I probably thought I knew more than that I actually did.
Enter Richard Horner and the newly introduced Youth Modules. Richard and the course revolutionised my thinking, making me question a lot of the practical delivery and content of my sessions and how to try and get the best out of every individual in the squad. Due to my professional job, I like to think I had a decent base of understanding in the Psychological and Social Corners however this improved dramatically looking holistically at all four corners simultaneously. I would like to think I up skilled in every corner through my FA Youth Licence Education, and that in part is with great thanks to Richard.
Coaching Influences - Darren O’Connell
My partner in crime! Darren and I joined forced with the rebrand of Grouville FC minis and launching ID Elite/Grouville Academy. We have very similar attributes in the way we like to learn and develop our own coaching skills.
We are each other sounding boards through the good times and the bad when trying to solve various coaching dilemmas. We have the confidence to question each other’s thinking and give honest feedback. We don’t always agree with each other, but we can always see the others point of view that helps us question our own ideals.
Coaching Influences - Brian Oliver & Paul Renton
Brian Oliver - I first met Brian as a young player at St Pauls FC in the nineties to be honest wasn’t too keen on him! His win at all costs mentality and unwillingness to give you a chance if he thought you weren’t good enough was not for me. However a few years down the line, Brian supported Jim Kelman deliver the 2004 Level 2 course in Jersey and this is where he influence turned into a positive. Brian understanding of the game, and the change I saw in his approach to coaching was amazing. It was inspiring to see someone evolve so much through coach education that at this stage of my own journey I realised that I will need to continuously keep learning myself to keep getting better.
Paul Renton - I first met Paul when I returned from Australia too when starting the Youth Module courses. I can still remember picking his brains outside the Rozel Rovers club house during the lunch break and the advice and support Paul gave around the course was fantastic. Having accepted his offer to join the Jersey FA Centre of Excellence working alongside Paul each week, reviewing sessions, games, players and driving the program forward, Pauls influence over the past several years has been instrumental in my own development.
The conversations with this dynamic duo are always insightful and thought provoking. Both have become a great influence in recent years in developing my own coaching knowledge and ability.
Coaching Influences - Ken Brawley
Having coached Ken’s son when he was a young child, Ken became part of the our coaching team at Grouville FC when I returned from Australia. Over the years Ken and I have built a strong friendship that started through football that has included the good, the bad and the ugly!
We share similar values and beliefs in the way we provide football opportunities for young players whilst also showing the respect for each others differences in opinions. Ken has been a great sounding board and through numerous discussions over the years has also given me food for thought by offering different perspectives through his own experience. Ken supported me as I launched GS United in its infancy and we continue to work hard in developing the club, our coaches and our players.
Coaching Influences - Parents
Where would we be without parents? A lesson I learnt early from Micky Porter was that as a coach your values and beliefs will be tested when making decisions. Usually tough decision where others may disagree with you. I understood early that I would have to stand my ground, and ensure I have a valid and justified reason for any decision I make. Certain parents may not always agree with your decision, but if they understand your rationale, then they may be able to accept it.
For every pessimistic, over bearing, over involved parent, there are usually many more positive, open minded and supportive parents. I am fortunate enough to have learnt from both over the years and am always grateful for some of the journey’s I’ve been on with some of them as I believe this has made me a better coach.
Coaching Influences - Books
Bill Beswick - Focused For Soccer
Massimo Lucchiesi - Coaching the 343 and 433
Coaching Influences - Players!
Last but not least, obviously a huge influence in my coaching journey has been, and will continue to be the hundreds of players I have had the privilege to know and to coach. Through the ups and downs, the good and the bad, honest feedback from payers has been vital to moulding my own characteristics as a coach. No doubt I’ll have lots of stories and anecdotes that can be provided throughout this course.
My main aim personally is to learn as much as possible throughout this Level 3 course. Being from an island and working in the environment I do, I would like to hear and learn from other coaches about their experiences working in different areas and communities around the country.
As for the U11s teams I shall be running, I hope they the players enjoy their season learning a new format of the game. They are now being introduced to 9 aside football with the Offside rule, the back pass rule and the exclusion of the ‘retreat lines’ that are in place for minis football. Of course the size of the pitch, the size of goals and more players playing at the same time adds another layer of challenge we are looking forward too.
We have introduced player packs and blocks of work to try and achieve a variety of team targets within our system of play and this information has also been passed on to parents through re-season parents meeting and a follow up email so they too have an understanding of what we are trying to achieve with this group of players.
Having submitted my application for the highest Grassroots coaching award back in May this year, I was delighted to be accepted onto the UEFA B Level 3 coaching through the Royal Navy FA in Portsmouth.
Alongside seven fellow coaches from Jersey, as part of our pre-coursework we were asked to complete a section of work named "My Coaching Journey" that involves some personal milestones (in and out of football) whereby looking back at life lessons learnt and how these may influence our own coaching philosophy and values.
Below you will see the first half instalment of my personal Coaching Journey.
1995 - Finished Secondary School
1996 - Finished Highlands College / Started full time employment
2001 - Dad diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)
2002 - Travelled to Thailand, Singapore, Bali and Australia
2003 - Dad passed away / Met Jade
2005 - Travelled Fiji, N & Australia. Started work in Children’s Service. Proposed to Jade
2008 - Married Jade
2009 - Moved to Melbourne, Australia
2010 - Returned to Jersey, lots had changed
2011 - Family planning, returned to Finance Sector
2012 - Ziva was born
2013 - Left Finance Sector, Horrible experience, joined Back to Work at Social Security
- Launched Game Sense Soccer Coaching (9 kids)
2014 - Brought our first home, Lani was born
2015 - Ziva started Nursery, Formed Charter Standard Club GS United FC in January
2016 - Ziva started School
2017 - Lani started Nursery
2018 - 10th Wedding Anniversary, Lani joined Pre-School Nursery at Ziva’s School
I got involved in coaching from a young age through my passion for the game and wanting to learn more about it. I loved talked football with my coach and understanding tactics and different positions from the age of 14.
The older I got, the more I learnt and the more I realised that my real passion is about child development. Helping young people learn something new, succeed in a new tasks, a new skill, to recognise a problem and overcome it.
Guiding young people achieve something they never thought they could, to support them grow in confidence, increase their self-esteem and believe in themselves is an absolute privilege and it keeps me coming back for more.
Being so long ago I don’t really remember my actual first coaching session. As I had been working with Micky Porter for a good period of time, my first memory of taking the group was when he went in for a hip operation and therefore I ensured we had continuity of practice and completed the remaining games program for the season.
Session wise we keep things similar that included possession football, rondo’s and a match to finish.
My first memory of feeling very nervous was actually the first competitive game I covered with the group down at FB Fields. So much thinking the night before, planning the team, trying to remember the key messages to provide in the pre-match team talk, trying to make sure all players and parents were happy. Trying to time the substitutions and manage the players. Trying to be engaging with the players at half time and pass across the correct messages.
At the start I remember the feeling of being overwhelmed, but once we kicked off things got easier. It probably helped that we had a very good team too and we won the game which was a great relief!
In the coming days I will share the second half of My Coaching Journey and those who have influenced me, as well as some self reflection on how I have changed my coaching style from when I first started out to where I am now.
I look forward to sharing my experiences with you over the coming season(s) whilst working through this coaching licence.
I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I will!
Pre-match day the excitement starts. Enthusiasm grows hour by hour in the anticipation of pulling on your teams football kit. Thinking about scoring that goal, thinking about making that save, perhaps thinking about making that Lionel Messi dribble with the ball and setting up your teammates to smash the ball in to the back of the net.
Match day arrives, the kit goes on, shin pads and boots put on, laces tied. You walk onto the grass with adrenaline building.
You’re feeling up beat with your friends around you.
You look at the opposition your about to face.
The referee walks to the centre with the ball.
You glance at mum or dad, gran or granddad – and see all the spectators on the side-lines looking forward to what will happen next.
You take a deep breath.
The whistle blows. Kick off is taken…
However, unfortunately on some occasions, the “Relative Age Effect” kicks off at the same time.
So what is the relative Age Effect?
“Many sports use the academic year (1 September to 31 August) as the registration dates for entry into school, community, governing body talent pathways, and some professional competitions within the UK.
However, this structure still leads to some children being almost one year older than others within the same annual-age group (e.g. a September birth compared to an August birth). This difference in age within an annual-age group is defined as relative age, with the consequences being the Relative Age Effect.
The Relative Age Effect results in participation and selection differences favouring the relatively older participants and occurs in most youth sports, including football, rugby league, rugby union, basketball and tennis (Cobley et al, 2009). This means that a greater number of players born closer to the ‘cut-off’ date of 1 September participate and are selected for teams, clubs and competitions”.
- Sports Coach UK
The Relative Age Effect brings some massive challenges to some younger participants especially in invasive team sports.
Locally, where coaches from different clubs liaise to arrange development fixtures for our Minis Sections, plans are in place in an effort to ensure all games are competitive, on occasions though this proves difficult.
Week on week all over the country we see over exuberant scores lines in favour of one team filtering through the news, media, website and general chit chat amongst spectators. Usually this is to promote how proud people are of the club, their players, or indeed their children.
However, the impact of the team that has been defeated by such a heavy score line can be demoralising, and even worse have a long term effect on the child if the situation is not managed in the appropriate manner. For example being used as an opportunity to educate, to positively influence and to overcome adversity – essentially to start the building blocks and foundation of a much needed life skill that will be used more and more throughout adolescence and adult life.
When these ‘mismatches in stature’ do occur it can be very difficult to witness; to coach; and even more so from a young child’s perspective to play in.
As an experienced Grass Roots coach, I am aware of and understand that those without a coaching background may not take The Relative Age Effect into consideration or indeed be aware of what it is.
Through continual coach education and development we learn that although players might be in the same school year, the birth bias of players being born in Sept, Oct and Nov will mean most of the time that their ability is perceived by the untrained eye to be higher than those born later in the school year in Jun, July, Aug.
It is my opinion that any coach working with young children and adolescence’s in sport should be observing, recognising and coaching the individual’s needs at their specific stage of development of learning the game.
Players should not be grouped together where consideration is solely based on the child’s School Year, but actually with deeper thinking around the “Quarter” of the School year that the child is born in (Q1 Sept, Oct, Nov Q2 Dec, Jan, Feb Q3 Mar, Apr, May Q4 Jun, Jul, Aug) in addition to where the players actual stage of development sits at the current time.
This means that some players in School Year 2 and born in Q1, may have the ability to play up with players in School Year 3 born in Q3 or Q4.
And vice versa, it may be appropriate in order for players to develop born in School Year 4 - Q4, to play with players in School Year 3 Q1 and Q2.
Simply put the older players within the same school year in some cases have been on the planet almost 12 months longer than the younger players, so of course most will be a little more advanced (at this stage) due to having more life experience.
I truly believe that it is important that all Parents, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles and other people that can influence young people in sport should to be aware of the relative age effect and should have a basic knowledge and understanding of it as this can have a huge impact as to how your support your child grow within the sport.
In my experience, you can have the peace of mind that although some challenges prove to difficult during the mismatches right now, that in the future the physical different does close during the adolescent years. Essentially at this stage the gap is bridged between the younger players in the group with the older players through maturation and growth and indeed the more proficient technical players with good decision making skills and game sense begin to excel.
If the challenge is inappropriate and the competitive edge to the game is no longer there, what can we do?
Essentially in an attempt to make the game more competitive try additional players being put on for one team or a player being taken off for the other. This should be completed discreetly – it’s not really important to flag this up to anyone else but it is important to try and make the game better for the players.
If that is unsuccessful, then it is extremely important on how we manage and reflect with our players after the game has ended. And by “we” I mean both coaches and the support network around the child.
It is vital that young players receive the same positive messages from parents at home as well as from the coaching staff. This can only reinforce their continued learning and positive development not only as a player, but also as a young person.
Its been a while since my last blog, and although I would like to write more often, I usually only get my thoughts down on certain matters that strike me at the time as being something to discuss and get the opinions of others.
With that said, please feel free to leave some feedback that is either positive or indeed that will make me question my own thought process. #growthmindset
Four years ago I returned back to Minis coaching (5-10 year olds) after a few years of working with older age groups.
There have been some terrific changes and developments in this Foundation Phase, for example, better organised Minis festivals; better links between clubs and coaches for development fixtures; and most of the time much better environments where youngsters feel safe learning the game.
Some things have remained constant. Kids enthusiasm! Their passion and desire to play with their friends; to have fun; and in some cases to improve and be better.
An area in particular that I would like to discuss is one that has also been a constant here in Jersey. I’m not sure how this should be addressed, nor indeed if it has too.
However, I feel it is something that would be interesting to put out their for parents and coaches to digest and talk about. If not on this thread, at least amongst our footballing community.
I have spent many years gaining experience coaching at Mini’s football at St.Pauls FC, Grouville FC and more recently GS United FC starting way back in the early noughties up until present date, and this issue was the same back then as it is now.
The issue I would like to discuss is that of Mini’s players being able to train and play for numerous clubs within the same season.
I have seen in my time individuals training for 2 or 3 different clubs throughout the season which in turn has seen them play for a different team each time a festival or development fixture is organised.
For me, there are challenges around this that impact on three areas.
1. The Player themselves
2. The Players Parents
3. The Club and Coaches
The player just wants to play. All of the time.
And will more than likely take up the opportunity to play anywhere they are offered too. As they just want to play.
They fall in the love the game and we as coaches and parents hopefully help them foster a life long love of the sport. And rightly so.
The issue of playing for different clubs though is highlighted as a problem when the player, a young child is caught in the middle. Effectively having their emotions pull in a tug-of-war contest of having to choose between which set of friends he wants to play with and not wanting to upset other friends in their other team. Or indeed choosing which coach he wants to play for or which club he likes the most.
It’s a tough thing to see. I’ve witnessed youngsters in turmoil over making these choices. Lets not forget we are talking about players who are 6,7,8,9,10 years old. Littleuns.
THE PLAYERS PARENTS
9 out of 10 player’s parents simply do not know, what they don’t know. That is in no sense a derogatory comment. Instead, my point is, the parents may never have been through this type of situation before would not have the experience or knowledge of the impact having their child play for numerous clubs could have.
From the Parent’s perspective, all they wish is for their child to play more football, and as parents we want to provide this. More football is easily accessible by playing at different clubs and therefore an easy option.
However as easy as this decision is at the time, it takes us back to the impact on ‘The Player’ as stated above.
THE CLUB AND COACHES
The understanding of the footballing provision can be under estimated as not many parents/supporters really see what goes on behind the scenes at their local football clubs.
The club point of view is to ensure the smooth running of the club through up to date administration, including the Club Constitution, that Committee members, Coaches and all other workforce at the club are providing best practice. All mandatory requirements are fulfilled to provide a safe, secure and fun learning environment to look after the most treasured gift - our Children.
Coaches put in numerous hours developing themselves through coaching courses, CPD events, Coaches meetings, session planning and session evaluations to provide the best possible football education for young players in their care.
In turn, this football education to all players is inclusive and helps young players foster friendships too. The dedication and personal investment coaches have in supporting young players be the best they can be whilst helping youngsters form a real team spirit with their friends is an incredible thing.
The impact is now not only the individual that is playing for different clubs, but the ripple effect is now impacting on his teammates whom they have been training with.
Team mates would be asking questions as to why one of the friends “is playing for another team when they train with us”.
With this in mind, it takes us back again to the impact on ‘The Player” as stated above.
In my opinion, on some level all the of the above stress and anxiety placed on the young player could easily be avoided by an open and honest conversation between parents and coaches before the player is given the green light to train and play for other teams.
Let me be clear, this is not something new. Every season I have been involved in Mini’s football this has happened. For some reason this season it has happened more often. Some at my own club and some that I know of playing at other clubs.
My own take on the situation is that I am all for players gaining more contact time with the football in healthy practice environments. I do however have the stipulation that if one of our players trains with another club, that the player shows commitment and loyalty to our club in terms of representing us at festivals, fixtures and other events during the current season.
The reasons are above. With the most important one being the impact of having to make a very difficult choice being taken away from a very young child from the start.
Guidance and advice provided in collaborative approach with coaches and parents’ working together is always readily available, and from my coaching staffs point of view, with a clear purpose and understanding that will support the development of the child/player.
Not only in a football sense, but also developing positive characteristics such as sportsmanship, teamwork, loyalty and respect too.
Another possible solution may be that the Jersey Football Combination reviews this situation. At this moment in time I do not believe there is any appetite for Mini’s player registrations from the governing bodies, FA, JFA and JFC.
Would this potentially solve the above issues, maybe, maybe not.
Whilst also looking at it with a holistic approach, this would also reduce some reputation damage of certain clubs and certain coaches that are seen to “encourage” the better players to join them throughout the season. Mini’s players would have to follow the rules like players in Under 11s football upwards and would not be allowed to train or player for another club unless they requested a transfer like in the older age groups. It’s just a thought.
My knowledge, experience and belief allows me to be confident enough to trust our players, trust our parents and trust our coaching team. We believe we are doing the right things for all concerned. Not everyone might agree, and do we get it wrong at times, certainly. However this belief in what we do helps families and young players involved with our philosophy to understand and respect our perspective.
For any parents reading this, if your youngster wants to train and play for more than one club, I hope this gives you some pause for thought and some guidance on how you might handle the situation.
For any coaches out there, I would be interested in hearing you thoughts on this debate.
And if the JFC is listening, what’s your view?
Over the past several weeks I have had the pleasure of coaching sessions in various clubs and meeting many enthusiastic players, coaches and parents.
Having the opportunity to discuss ideas, issues and solutions around the preparation, planning, delivery and evaluation of practice sessions, we agreed that these stages are vitally important to help us get the best out of the players we coach and help them improve.
ALL OF THEM. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
“I’ve got such a diverse group of players with different abilities, it’s hard to plan a session to improve them all”
“How do I plan on a session for players with mixed ability and experience?”
Through discussions with coaches, a paraphrased version of the above inevitably comes up when coaching at grass roots level. And will continue to do so, even more so for new or inexperienced coaches.
And you’re right. It is damn hard.
Thankfully however, “managing difference” can get easier. But we have to be willing to put the effort in as a coach to get better, to make it easier.
When I say managing difference, I am talking about player ability and stage of learning. And to help me manage this I personally ensure first and foremost the rules and boundaries for all players, coaches and parents are set out from the start to abide by. These rules are inclusive of everyone. We are all equals.
With this in mind, I thought I would put a couple of tips from my experience and what I use when coaching to help me try and improve each and every player I coach, regardless of their ability.
The biggest challenge that comes across when working with our teams, or indeed meeting a new set of players for the first time is recognizing how to appropriately challenge the ability levels of all players.
The late developers (1), those who are keeping up (2) and the high flyers (3).
Honestly, I don’t think there are any quick wins. As a coach, the more experience we get being out their on the grass will help us recognize these three groups. And this is key to managing the difference.
Although we may have our best session plan prepared, we need to be able to understand how to progress the session at the right speed, with the right challenges in place for these three groups.
Personally for me, when working in 1v1’s, 2v2s, small groups during our practice sessions, I find pairing players from the same ability group or the ability group above together works 9 out of 10 times.
Mismatching the late developers and the high flyers will absolutely cause behavioral issues resulting by the late developer being challenged too much, and the high flyer finding the task to easy.
Both sets of players become bored or frustrated. Usually then begin to “act out” or “play up”, through no fault of their own. It’s actually our fault, the coaches, for not managing the difference effectively.
In reference to progressing the session at the right speed and the right time, this may actually be different for each group.
During your set period of time for the task at hand, giving the late developers one challenge to overcome may be sufficient for them. However during that same period of time you made add an additional challenge in for the middle group and perhaps another challenge still for the high flyers.
All players striving to overcome their own set of challenges that is appropriate to their ability level at their stage of learning.
During the Small Sided Games, if one side is obviously stronger, simply use “Transfer Windows” where teams have a 30 second team talk to discuss who they want from the side. It may take a couple of transfer windows, but it naturally happens to balance out the sides sufficiently without coaches having to step in and pick the teams for them.
I also ask each side to give a reason why players want to buy another player too. This helps the players themselves recognize the qualities and traits in their peers, and how those qualities will improve their current team.
Getting out on the grass, coaching as much as possible and doing the ‘deep thinking ‘ with regards to the reflection of our session just has to happen.
Its all well and good planning a session, delivering it and saying the end “that was ok” or “that was good” or “that didn’t work”. However, to get better we need to do more than that.
If the session was ok, how can we make it better? What would we change?
If it was good, what went well?
If it was bad, what could we do differently or better next time in our delivery?
Personally, from my experience, if you break down your practice sessions to reflect on them, I would bet that you would have all the above in each and every session you deliver. Now we’re on the right path to becoming a better coach. And a better coach means you’ll help your players get better.
And whilst we are gaining all this valuable insight coaching on a regular basis, I would expect running parallel would be “getting to know your players”.
Getting to know their unique characters; their personalities; their playing traits; what type of practices they enjoy taking part in and which ones they don’t.
All this information will help us prepare our future practice sessions, and the challenges within those sessions to cater for the difference.
And if we can do that, we doing damn good job.
An age old problem.
It has been during the 20 years I have been involved in coaching. And no doubt many years before that, and no doubt it will be for many years after I hang my boots up.
Poaching. Tapping Up. Call it what you want. It happens. Always has and probably always will.
Approaching other clubs players in an inappropriate manner. Unsporting to say the least.
Experience tells me that it usually comes down to the Clubs philosophy (if it has one) and the managers and coaches ethics. Or perhaps sometimes is down to a lack of understanding of the rules.
Whatever the reasons for doing it, it upsets people. I could give you many stories over the years of how coaches have “tapped players up” not only mine, but others players at other clubs too. There has been some very questionable conduct in the way some coaches and clubs have gone about their recruitment but I’m not going to go in to that right now.
What intrigues me are the reasons coaches do it.
Some want all the best players to play in their team, so they go out and try to hand pick and influence those players to change club and join them. Reasons for this may be that the coach wants to be seen as successful through winning trophies with the best players.
Not a problem if that is what you want to do, but there is a right and a wrong way of going about your recruitment process.
And just a thought, but what happens to the current kids in the team that are bumped out as they are deemed no longer good enough?
What an impact our decisions have on young people.
I am interested in why at amateur level, especially youth and minis level would some coaches and clubs want all the perceived best players with them.
For one thing, this has a knock on effect to the development fixtures where the competitive side of the game is diluted. What’s is the point in teams winning or losing 10-0. The results are not important, but having a good competitive game is. If matches and results are overly one sided, is there any benefit to either team?
In my experience, there is a direct correlation between the coaches that go out an “poach’ the perceived best players, and the coaches who are results driven. The consideration of developing players, especially the ones in the current team appear not to be given a second thought.
However, the situation is improving. Slowly but surely. I’m glad to say that with coach education, coaches conduct is changing for the better. The more we understand about player and child development, the better we’re getting at it.
New coaches are coming through, and buying into the FA way of supporting children play their game. We as coaches need to put our own egos aside, and do what’s best in the interest of the kids. Sometimes I feel, certain individuals and certain clubs lose sight of this.
Around all the side lines and training sessions, the chatter in recent years is about the same coaches in the same clubs approaching players either by blatantly breaking the Rules of the Jersey Football Combination; or in the minis section (where player registration to the JFC is not required) showing morals and ethics that are questionable… at best.
I don’t have one. There has been many debates over the years about it with a variety of coaches and clubs, but there is no answer. Usually this type of conduct is very difficult to prove, and even when proof is there, the Combination and FA in my opinion do not clamp down on it swift enough or tough enough. And so it continues.
Personally, my own philosophy, ethics and morals plus the belief in what I offer and deliver as a coach stands firm. Have I lost players to other clubs? Of course I have, and for a variety of reasons.
Some want to go and join there school friends at another club; some are logistic reasons; some want to go to what is perceived a bigger and better club; other reasons maybe that my style of coaching may not suit certain individuals; or I may just have different expectations to the players or their parents.
In terms of poaching however, I proud of the fact that I am fortunate enough not to have lost many players to another club this way. Although many have tried and sadly some still do.
Most of my players, past and present that have been ‘approached’ have stayed with me. It’s pleasing to state that it’s usually my own players or parents that tell me directly that another coach or club has approached them. The trust is there.
This may come from the complete and utter faith in what I do, how I communicate, how the players welfare, enjoyment and learning is the priority. Its tried and tested. It works.
My knowledge, experience and belief allows me to be confident enough to trust my players, trust my parents and trust my colleagues. We believe we are doing the right things. And this helps families whom are involved with our philosophy to respect what we do and show loyalty to us, as we do to them.
As for the coaches that recruit in the manner; first and foremost it breaks the Code of Conduct from the FA. And I quote three codes for Coaches and Team managers being :-
On and off the field, I will:
• Show respect to others involved in the game including match officials, opposition players, coaches, managers, officials and spectators
• Adhere to the laws and spirit of the game
• Promote Fair Play and high standards of behaviour
In my opinion, if we as coaches do not have the scruples to follow even the basic codes that are agreed when passing our qualifications, perhaps we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves should we really be in a position of a role model to young people in the first place?
Taken for granted. Those in Black, the match officials.
Historically a part of the Beautiful Game at all levels. Love them or hate them, they are extremely important to the future of football.
An opinion of a referee can change in instant. A good or bad decision; something they may have missed; awarding a match changing penalty decision; or indeed making a huge mistake like issuing three yellow cards in one game to the same player! (See England’s finest …. Graham Poll World Cup 1996 – it happens to the best of us Graham).
Whatever the circumstances, match officials are in a position where they will be loved or loathed; every minute of every game; quite simply because they can’t please everyone.
In recent years the FA have launched the RESPECT campaign, various elements from different areas of the game are included, and the Campaign is mostly for everyone to recognise and make a conscious effort to improve the environment, therefore producing a much improved spectacle, and more enjoyable game for everyone. A big inclusion is promoting Respect to match officials across the globe.
Closer to home, and having been in a position where I have personally donned the black kit, the challenge of being a match day official should not be taken lightly, and most certainly the responsibility of the role should not be overlooked by Coaches, players and spectators.
Years ago when I was coaching at St.Pauls FC, due to the shortage of officials on the island, I attended and completed the Referees Course and successfully became a Level 7 qualified referee in the pyramid.
The sole reason I completed this training was that at the time there we no official match day referees available for Under 14’s football. This meant that the home team had to provide a referee (where nine times out of ten it was the coach who also had many other roles to worry about let alone refereeing the game as well).
Refereeing junior games was good fun; I was learning a different perspective of the game from that of being a player, and a coach, and initially I enjoyed it. However, as the days and weeks went by I began to feel the pressure of being put forward to officiate Senior matches. Something that I had no interest in. I got involved to support the Junior Section, not the Senior. However because the quantity of referees was so small, that new referees were being asked to commit to more games, in areas that they did not feel comfortable with.
My experience of refereeing a Senior matches was horrendous. As a new referee who had very limited experience in the trade, the verbal abuse I received from players was a disgrace. So much so, that I refused to referee any more senior games, and after that one season involved in refereeing I did not commit to it anymore. Instead I focused all my footballing energy into coaching.
Looking back, it is a great shame as I actually enjoyed a different involvement in Junior Football, getting to know other referees who I’d previously only known from a players stand point, was well worthwhile.
Recently the discussion on officials came up on a workshop that I attended. Several years ago I knew there was difficulties with encouraging new officials to take up the whistle, but little did I know the current severity of problem we have.
I feel it is important to raise the awareness of just how much trouble our local game could be in.
I see, hear and read many times over of how players, coaches and supporters are over critical of our referees, and when I do, I often ask myself if those condemning these officials would actually have the courage to step up to the plate themselves.
Let me highlight the statistics that were presented a few days ago.
There are over 1,000 games per season played here in Jersey. In Jersey 40 referees are registered; of those 40 only 25 are actively refereeing. That is a staggering amount of games for a small workforce of Referees to cover.
I know one referee in particular who’s commitment is second to none, and over the years he has probably been the ‘man in the middle’ for more or less 100 games per season. Add to this all the other roles he fulfils for the running of our game locally, we are very lucky to have him involved.
Just think, if for whatever reason this person took a step back and hung up his whistle; we may potentially lose a referee for another 10% of local fixtures.
Recently, match day officials have been ‘running the line’ for a first team game in the early afternoon, to then travel to another venue to referee a reserve game straight after. In my opinion, the situation is of great concern.
So what is being done to entice new Officials?
As I understand it, in recent seasons Clubs have had to nominate a club member to be the ‘in house’ Referee and attend the basic training for Match Day officials.
More noticeable is the intake of school aged children joining the Referee workshops and becoming qualified officials. Does this qualification goes towards some of their studies at School? - I am not sure, but what is great is that young officials are getting the opportunity to develop, learn and gain confidence in the junior development fixtures through the year. It’s win-win. Development for all.
Even with these new young officials coming through, local football still needs more. Next time you’re out watching your son, daughter, grandchild play the game, it will be nice to have in mind the bigger picture of the task at hand for our local officials.
I'm sure there will be other initiatives, and if you know what they are, please let me know and spread the word.
I challenge those of you thinking about getting involved in our Football Family to decide on how would you like to benefit the community. All the ex-players; coaches; club officials, parents out there, surely we can drum up some interest to keep growing our game. So please consider becoming a Match Official.
If you do, and would like to know more about being an official and are over 14 years of age please contact Referee Development Officer Robert Timm by email on Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, during the next game you attend, and an official makes a decision you disagree with, rather than chastise them; barrack them; complain and verbal abuse them; (usual in front of young children too by the way) Take a deep breath, pause for thought, and think about the consequences.
If you’re actions cause referees to feel demoralised and think ‘What is the point?’ then you are having an impact on the game that we do not need. You will be affecting the game in a bigger way then you realise. If we lose more refs, we may well lose the game.
Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting some fantastic people through coaching. I’m not talking solely about coaches, I’m talking about good honest people in and around the game who are players, parents, referees, club officials, supporters and the list goes on.
Having been involved with coaching players as young as 4 years old through to the senior game, I have had many discussions about what people expect within the game, and these expectations are vast and varied.
For example, some clubs want all the best players at their clubs and will go out of there way to get them; some coaches to develop players to improve as best they can; some officials want to work their way up the refereeing pyramid; some players just want to enjoy the game and socialize with their friends; some parents want their child to become the next Leo Messi. And who am I to make comment on whatever your motivation may be, or as to why you are involved in the game we all love.
What I would like to discuss at the moment is the rise in level of expectation that I have come across in recent years about how good our players are here in Jersey. Across the spectrum, junior to senior, somewhere, somehow, the majority of the footballing family in my opinion believe we are far superior than we actual are.
As an island, we have not produced a top class footballer since Graeme Le Saux. Formerly of St.Pauls, Chelsea, Blackburn and Southampton, Graeme retired in 2005 at the age of 36 years old. Graeme signed for Chelsea in 1987 and made his professional debut for them in 1989.
Currently we have Brett Pitman flying the Jersey Flag for AFC Bournemouth at the top of the Championship (best of luck to him and his team on gaining promotion to the Premiership in the coming month) and Peter Vincenti of Rochdale FC who are currently fighting to gain a play off place in League 1.
We also have other players in the lower tiers of English football, and those who have even travelled further into Europe in an attempt to make a name and career for themselves. I could provide many names from the past 20 years of those who have had trials, managed to secure the old Youth Training Scheme / Apprenticeships but have not had the rub of the green, or indeed, just not been good enough at that particular time.
In recent years here in Jersey, youth football has gone onto another level with the current annual primary Schools festival be watched by various scouts; local clubs forging links with professional clubs; and the JFA Capita Centre of Excellence growing and going from strength to strength. Honestly, I can’t remember opportunities to develop ever being so good for our local footballers.
However, once I take off those rose tinted glasses, there are some things that still concern me, and one of those concerns is the weight of expectation I see around every match I watch or am involved in.
The pressure some young players are being put under by certain coaches and parents in my opinion is absolutely ludicrous.
The most recent example I have is recently I returned from a football trip with two squads where we played against one of the best; if not the best; football academies in England, Southampton FC.
On our return, when the players met their parents I was bemused that one of the first things I heard from the parent to their child was “How are you? Did you win?”
This is a usual question I hear a lot. It seems to be the default question of most people, but my concern was, the parent was actually serious…. “Did You Win?”
The Academy teams we play against practice at least three times a week and have at least one match per week and play competitive football to develop there players… at the highest level. They are coached by some of the best youth coaches in the country. No less then 10 hours contact time with their coach and teammates per week. Some even have the school education at the training complex.
Our squads train once per week, and this season actually less than that due to facilities and weather conditions. (Thank heavens for Springfield now!). We have excellent and highly motivated coaches who are qualified at various levels, but by no means do we believe we are at the level of Southampton Football Club’s staff.
So after reading just two paragraphs above…. Let me ask you… Do you think we won?
And more to the point…. Do you actually think it is important if we won?
The kids had a wonderful experience. A tour around St Mary’s Stadium, playing at the Southampton’s new £40 million training complex against some of the best players at their age, in the country.
The kids had a great insight for the day in what it might be like being a footballer at Southampton’s FC, and believe me when I say they improved on the pitch from start to finish and learnt a great deal.
So how about asking something like - did you have fun? How was the trip? Did you try you hardest? Did you play to the best of your ability? What did you learn?
Followed up by well done, I’m proud of you.
It’s a quite simple way to positively influence and motivate kids to learn more about the game.
I could give many other examples, but my point is, we are a very small community. Roughly 100,000 islanders, and we have roughly 1,500 people involved in playing football each season. Of those 1,500, those deemed to have most ability at a certain stage each season will be called up to represent the island, both men and women, boys and girls.
So perhaps 150 people across the board selected to represent Jersey. Out of those, a handful may be fortunate enough to be offered a trial with a professional club.
And from that handful, how many have actually made a career out of being a professional footballer? Not many.
So why is this mentality around the island that we can produce a conveyor belt of talent who will become professional footballers?
Why do I see some clubs, some coaches and some parents treating who they believe to be there most talented players like superstars and different to other players in there squads. And once the game kicks off, it’s usually those players who are given more negative comments and pressure applied to than anyone else, in most cases, by their own parents. The expectation of them for whatever reasons are sky high.
The stats don’t lie, we have two players (correct me if I’m wrong) playing in the top four English leagues, and the last one was Graeme Le Saux who retired a decade ago.
Over 100,000 youths play in the professional academies for years on end training several times a week, exposed to top class coaching and competition from the age of 8 years old to 16…. And if I recall correctly, 1% of them will make it professionally. The gulf in level for these players to our local island players is huge. A totally different world to from our amateur grass roots football in the island of Jersey.
I’m not writing to quash dreams, I writing because I am genuinely bewildered as to why expectations have soared so wildly high that perhaps we have forgotten to keep our boots on the ground.
Players need to be treated equally. At youth level here in Jersey I have seen a coach talk to his team ‘star player’ for 20 minutes whilst the rest of the squad runs lengths across the pitch for a warm before the game. Only the for the so-called star player to go and join the team for a game of ‘Piggy in the middle’ just a few minutes before kick off.
What expectation does the coach have of this player? – Why was he being treated so differently to the rest of the team?
We have some very talented players currently in the island, senior and junior and even those players recognised to be the best we have to offer, for whatever reasons, cannot make it in the professional game.
It’s a damn hard thing to do.
I don’t know if its just me seeing things so differently to others, so I am really asking for your opinions and comments as a player, parent, coach, club official or spectator…. However you’re involved in the local game, what are you expectations?
“Parents need to look at what these coaches do, how much effort they put into helping other peoples children. Without them we would not have a game, so don’t be quick to judge them.
As a parent, once you are confident that your child is in a safe learning environment, one of the most important things you can do as a parent of a young player is to let them go and let their sports experience belong to them”.
John O’Sullivan from Changing The Game Project
In my capacity as a Coach for the Jersey FA Capita Centre of Excellence, our coaching team spends a massive amount of time watching local games; working in clubs with teams and working with fellow grass roots coaches.
In the past year I have committed to progressing further with my own Coaching development where I have completed and passed the FA Youth Module 3 Assessment to gain the FA Youth Module License; and also refreshed the Level 1 and Level 2 Coaching Badges. A process that was of great benefit and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially meeting many new coaches (young and old!) who are involved with Jersey Football and putting their time back into the game we love.
Working through these courses recently, and sitting in on several others over the years, one thread seems to stand out when I watch games and training sessions, and that is the transference of knowledge from the Coaching Courses to the Club environment.
Rightly so, to be a Coach of a junior Football Team, it is mandatory to pass the Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Football. This course is over 30 hours of learning that includes Theory sessions on Player and Coach development; The FA’s Respect Programme; Laws of the Game; An introduction to the FA's Long Term Player Development Model; An introduction to Football for All plus separate workshops the FA Emergency Aid, The Safeguarding Children in Football.
Also involved are the Practical elements of the course that provide an introduction to Warm up and cool down game related activities; Passing and control; Turning with the ball; Dribbling; Shooting; Heading; Goalkeeping; Individual Attacking; Individual Defending and Small sided games.
I’m sure you’ll agree, this is a terrific introduction for potential coaches to let them know what they’re setting themselves up for in the coaching trade!
Of course, the further you want to progress as a Coach, the more knowledge you will gain in each of the Four Corners and how to use an holistic approach to developing the players under your watchful eye.
Even at the very start of our coaching careers, we are introduced to the idea of player’s practice being relevant and realistic to the actual game of football and putting on creative practice sessions where the players can have plenty of repetition to improve development. In my humble opinion, this is an absolute key part to what coaching is all about.
We encourage players to be brave and take risks; to try the unorthodox; to be in an environment where making mistakes is actually ok; and to try to learn from those mistakes.
And from these practices assist players transfer their newly learnt or honed techniques, skills and knowledge to their match day performance.
If we are asking the players to do this, shouldn’t we be doing the same?
Some are, but for me, those coaches are in the minority.
In the past I have watched on as many newly qualified coaches, and also experienced coaches who have attended training courses and Coach Personal Development seminars, totally disregard their own learning and return to their previous mannerisms and characteristics by not putting into practice what they have learnt. If we as coaches are not trying to better ourselves, how do we expect to better the players we coach?
It’s easy to do, believe me I know, I have done it myself in the past. For me it took a real conscious effort to change elements of my own approach on how to deliver practice sessions, and I have deliberately asked for; and welcomed feedback from all involved and my peer coaches.
There are certain topics that I am less comfortable in coaching, however I have forced myself to get into the habit of pushing my boundaries and comfort zones; I now have the mindset to be brave, and just get out there and give it a go.
Recently on the Level 2 course I was handed Pressing in a Technique and Skills based Session and the next day given Aerial Control in a Small Sided Game. There is no shame in saying it really tested me putting together a decent session to deliver to my peers, colleagues and friends.
To be brutally honest, I got a bit of grilling from the tutor regarding my Pressing session, (in a constructive manner but a grilling all the same LOL) but this also opened a healthy debate amongst the coaches of when, where and why you would show opponents in field or out. So I understand what it’s like to put ourselves out there and open ourselves up for constructive criticism or feedback as we call it these days.
During the end of last season and so far into the current one, it appears some of the more popular practices include having queues of players lining up for the old 1-2 shooting practice and collecting their balls from here, there and everywhere.
Warm up for games where ‘star’ players’ talk to the head coach for 15 minutes whilst the rest of the squad run across the pitch several with another coach. No ball insight. Then when A ball is introduced, it’s the old favorite of piggy in the middle. One kid to win the ball of the other 15 players who stand in a circle.
These are just two examples of many, my point is, as qualified coaches, and sticking to the feedback notion; shouldn’t we be a bit more creative, inspiring and courageous with our coaching?
I would like to encourage other coaches to step up; to push themselves further; to effectively practice what they preach to their player’s week in week out and try to raise the whole standard of our coaching workforce by sharing ideas, sharing opinions, opening debates, discussing practice sessions, and sharing as much information with each other as we possibly can.
I invite you to join our local coaches on our facebook page ‘Jersey Football Coaches Forum’ and as the season gets into full swing, lets make this page as lively as we can. It will only be as good as the participation from each one us.
Old School laps around the pitch... here's what Jose thinks....
'Have you ever seen a pianist run around his piano before sitting down to unleash a masterpiece? In our methodology we don't send them on laps around the pitch either'
- Jose Mourinho
"A good player doesn't need a strong physique. You must have a lot of Technique, move the ball quickly, avoid a collision - and to avoid it you must have good vision"
Legendary Dutch Player and Coach
"They call it coaching, but it's teaching, you don't just tell them what to do, you show them"
"Coaches paint pictures, Simpler the better"
"The level of a coach can be noticed by the manner in which he inspires the players. That cannot be learned on a coaching course. It is the individual quality of each coach, the personality of the coach"
Legendary Dutch coach and creator of Total Football
‘Ensure all your players are treated fairly and valued equally in terms of match time’
“Just go out and enjoy yourselves, don’t worry about winning”
"It's amazing what can happen when you educate players to focus on development and performance first, and results second"
“The feelings children get from knowing they have tried as hard as they can are crucial. And I for one think we should foster this feeling”
“Fairness and team spirit within football clubs is an important issue for young children. When players feel there is favouritism or bias in teams they become demotivated and the chances of dropout increase.”
“The objective in any team sport is to transform the group from a mere collection of talented individuals into a highly cohesive unit so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”
With the training and experiences I have learned from my background of working in the Care industry, where I supported vulnerable individuals and their families, I believe I have formed a decent understanding and awareness of recognizing certain group dynamics; various postures and body language; and how vital is it to have very good communication skills with a variety of people from all walks of life.
With this in mind, something that has always intrigued me is the change in a person’s character when they attend a game of football, whether being a spectator, a coach, a manager or a player.
‘Something happens’ when in proximity of that white touchline marking the boundary if a football pitch.
It appears as though many gentle, genuine and friendly people turn into their negative alter egos when it comes to football matches. It’s something that really does baffle me and I cant seem to rationalise why it happens?
Over the years I have seen hundreds if not thousands of football matches on our wee island, and the football opportunities we provide people to play the game are immense, and these opportunities are growing year on year.
So much in fact that our ‘Voluntary Work Force’ within each football club is stretched very thin indeed. However, that’s another discussion point entirely, and I take my hat off to each of those individuals for all the hard work, time, effort and support they give to prove football for our community.
In regards to our junior games played every Sunday morning and afternoon, as much as I enjoy watching the kids enjoy their football, a question that always comes to mind every weekend is that of –
Are we really providing an environment that is conducive to player development?
Understandably, the tone of the environment can change in an instant. Not just in senior football but around the world at junior football matches too. A wonderful goal; a poor tackle; a goal disallowed; a remarkable save; a decision the referee makes; the conduct and behavior of adults; the list goes on and on.
For me, I believe the simplest way of breeding a healthy environment is not just down the referees on match days, but a huge influence to producing a positive learning environment is down to the coaches or managers of the squads involved in the game.
And at this point, I would like to focus on the Coaches Touchline Etiquette.
Without doubt, the perception of the spectators who get wrapped up in watching the game will usually only see the coach as the focal point before the game; during half time; at the end of the game; and of course when they make substitutions.
With first hand knowledge, I would guesstimate that over 85% of the adults around the pitch would not recognize or hear any technical information provided to the players throughout the course of the game, both that of the players on the pitch, and those who are substitutes waiting for their chance to enter play.
Recently I have had the privilege of having several discussions with numerous coaches around local football clubs and some in the UK via social media about this issue.
These coaches and their experience and knowledge are all different, and it was interesting to hear their points of view.
Some self reflected and thought about their own conduct on sideline during games; other expressed their concern at some real poor conduct by others that they had witnessed; and likewise, some also acknowledged some of the good behavior of certain coaches they had seen too.
Now I can only state factually what I have seen with my own eyes, so will not go into what others have said.
So going back to my original question - Are we really providing an environment that is conducive to player development?
Personally from what I have seen over the years I’m not sure that we currently are.
Don’t get me wrong, each and every week there are some very good things going on around the island. For me, I like to see progress, and with recognising some of the good work that does take place, I also believe there is so much more we can be doing.
Human nature I guess dictates that we always pick up on unruly or poor behavior that is shown. The level of recognizing poor behavior though is different from person to person.
What can be deemed acceptable conduct for one person maybe totally unacceptable for another.
As a Coaching Family though, in my opinion, without doubt we should all be singing off the same song sheet.
Our interpretation of the song maybe different as we all have our own unique personality that we should use to maximize our players development, however, the lyrics of the song should be the same.
And by “lyrics” I am talking about the same rules for all, the same boundaries for all; our coaching morals and ethics the same; sportsmanship and fair play promoted and these are just a few things I think should be really adhered too by all Coaches.
With such vast differences between what one coach deems acceptable and what another does not, maybe the key to this is down to education. Coach education.
Why does the coach want to coach a football team? What are their intrinsic reasons?
Does the coach have up to date a Safeguarding Children Certification?
How does the coach keep up to date with coaching methods and knowledge? How does the coach cascade information and new knowledge they have gained to those around them? (On and off the field)
These questions run through my mind when I witness poor conduct or etiquette on the touchlines.
Things I have witnessed include defensive, aggressive shouting command style coaches that take away any decision making from their players; coaches focusing only on their perceived star players and not showing so much interest on the whole squad; coaches pacing up and down the sidelines and continuously talking to players; coaches deliberately making incorrect offside calls to protect their own teams from conceding a goal; coaches intentionally putting off the other teams players with intimidation and harmful comments about their ability; coaches making some very poor and un called for comments about the opposition teams coach and their team during team talks; amongst many other things.
Sadly, the answers to these questions seem to paint a similar picture.
What I have recognized though, is that there is a distinct correlation in terms of questionable coach behavior on the touchlines to coaches whom have been unable or unwilling to attend any recent coaching courses.
By attending and gaining further coach education, I believe this is a big step to not only to support the coach to develop their own coaching knowledge and skills, but to form a “ripple affect” that would also educate the players and the parents further still.
Therefore in my mind, this would have a huge impact on creating a more player centered and positive environment in which our kids would thrive and develop furthermore.
On the bright side, I have also witness coaches showing true sportsmanship win, lose or draw; being honest in there decisions as match officials; being truthful to trying to improve their players and helping them try to be the best they can be; and having some wonderful communication with the parents and spectators that helps the kids enjoy their game of football!
Sometimes being a coach means you have to be brave enough to challenge poor conduct from adults (in an appropriate way) for the good of the kids involved.
Without doubt, your morals and ethics will be tested, but in my experience, once you stand your ground and stick to your guns on how you would like to produce a learning environment, people respect you more for it, and the kids will get more out of THEIR GAME that we are facilitating for them.
Sometimes, what we don’t know… we just don’t know…. and perhaps this is where others can step in to offer some advice and guidance to help us progress further in our coaching journey.
So to finish, maybe some of the below questions will help you reflect on your own touchline Etiquette and give you pause for thought going forward to think about the environment you create during match days.
• Do you stand with your arms folded?
• Do you wave your arms in disgust when decisions go against your team?
• Do you shout at your players and tell them what to do? (Decision Making)
“Take him on” “Pass it” “Don’t do that” “Take it quickly” “Give it to him”
• Do you yell at your players and tell them where they should be?
“You should be here” “You should be there”
• Do you leave your Technical Area?
• Do you interact with your substitutes about what they see in happening within the game?
(Discussing challenges with them for when they will come on and play)
• Do you criticize the Match Officials in view of the players?
• Do you run down the opposition players or coaches to you team during your team talks?
• Do you praise good play by either team?
• Do you shake hands at the end of the game and positively interact with all players, coaches and officials involved?
• Do you give each of your players equal playing time or each player at least 50% game time?
• Do you provide snippets of technical information to individuals appropriately during play?
• Have you prepared you team in training for what you would like to see during matches? (Reducing anxiety and stress on players)
• Do you let the kids have fun and express themselves without having the fear of making a mistake?