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?