May, June, July, August… every season without fail, boundaries will be crossed and certain rules that are in place will be broken.
Unintentionally at times due to various factors, for example becoming a new coach, just not knowing or possibly being advised incorrectly. And sadly, broken very intentionally at other times, sometimes out of spite, jealousy, taking things too personally and losing sight of what is actually important – the kids enjoying their football.
With the summer months upon us, lets discuss the “Transfer Window” that was introduced a few seasons back here in Jersey.
As far as I’m aware, and please correct me if I’m wrong, the transfer window starts on the 1st June and ends on the 30th June each season. All players, Junior and Senior effectively become “Free Agents” and during this month they are free to train and play for any other club of their choosing without the permission of their current club.
During this time, Coaches and Managers are also free to approach any players and enquire if they would like to join their club and the team they are coaching the following season.
Players, if they choose too, can “Register” with another club in June without telling their current club, Which in my opinion is a little disrespectful to their clubs, coaches and teammates, but it is allowed to happen, and it does.
Each week, to assist clubs with there planning for the following season, during the transfer window, the governing body, the Jersey Football Combination sends weekly emails to club Secretaries with the latest updates of the movers and shakers throughout the month.
From the 1st July, the Free agent / transfer window is effectively closed and no player can move until the 1st of September.
The reason I was told for this is that players have previously tried to de-register themselves from their current clubs and then register again with a new club if they have not completed their move in time throughout June. This rule also helps clubs plan for the season ahead knowing roughly what players they have and what teams they can run.
The issue from this rule though is if a player wants to move from their current club and has missed their opportunity to do so in June, they are stuck for two months unable to play.
Official transfers can then be made from September through to the end of December where written permission is required from the players current club in order for the transfer to materialize. From January to May, no transfers are permitted.
One further addition to this situation of registering players is that, any player whom has not played at all for the previous two seasons, or any new players to the game can be registered throughout most of the season without any issues.
Knowing the above information, unfortunately in recent seasons gone by, I have personally experienced the impact of coaches from other clubs kicking up a fuss due to their own lack of understanding about how the process works. And in some cases, these coaches appear to have gone out of their way to slander my name and reputation to parents, others coaches and even report me to the Jersey Football Combination.
Let me provide a couple of examples.
One situation was a player and their parent approached me around Christmas time asking about how they might join my club and team. They enquired further about how I coach my players, the practices, and in general, everything that I do to develop the squad of players. At the time I rebuffed this approach advising that I couldn’t talk about any move to join me until June, and if they were still interested then, to contact me. Soon as June rolled around, they did indeed do this, and I was delighted to bring them into my club, and the player into my squad.
Another situation that occurred was one where I approached five players in June and enquired if they were currently happy at their current club, or if they had any thoughts on possibly moving elsewhere. (For the record its not something I’ve really needed to do before, but due to age and numbers in my squad, I required a few more players to be ready for the season ahead).
Of course, some of these players turned the offer down and some didn’t.
This happens a lot in the game, it's within the rules, and I’m certain that I am not the only one to do this.
However, as mentioned, the lack of knowledge in this area by coaches that have been in the game for many years was very surprising. Due to various comments these coaches made to parents around the island about me “Tapping up” there best players and the fact that they submitted a report / concern to the JFC, I had to answer questions about my conduct.
This had another impact on me as I had recently been appointed as a Coach for the Jersey Football Association Centre of Excellence. A role that I was excited to get, and one that i had worked very hard for in the previous decade to get!
However, now, two seasons in a row, I had to justify and clear my name with the CoE Director as these unnamed club coaches tried to use my position in the island set up against me stating “that a coach in your position should be tapping up players the way you are”… but don’t worry, I spoke to one of these coaches and corrected his version of events to the actual truth of what actually took place. And to be fair to him, he did apologise. The other one however, well… lets leave it at that.
Justifying my behavior has never been an issue for me, as I have a very strict moral compass, strong ethics and know most of the rules. If I don’t, I do my best to find out, and anybody who knows me in the game, and in life will recognize this completely.
So every allegation made about me was proven totally incorrect, and to top it off, it turned out that the coaches who reported me for “Tapping Up” their players in the month of June had actually been trying to lure some of my players away to their own clubs in April and May! Unbelievable!
For me, it appears that the first thought that goes through many coaches minds, especially the ones I personally class as “Old School Coaches” appears to be that any player wishing to leave there team, well, must have been tapped up.
The reality is, there could be a whole host of reasons that a player would like to move to another club. These reasons may be:
To play with the mates at another club;
To try different training or practice and another club (especially those player who have been at their current club for a long time);
To have a new challenge;
To play in the position they want too in a different team;
To play under a manager they know away form the game;
They may not get on as well with the current team as they used too;
They want to play longer in matches than they get at their current club.
Situations and circumstances in football and out of it are always changing. Players are a fickle bunch. The list goes on and on.
The long and short of it is... Let the kids enjoy playng the game... where ever they choose to do it.
We as coaches have to take a step back from taking a players request to move to another club so personally and try to find out exactly what the reasons are, and why the player wants to move.
If you have a good trustworthy relationship with them, I expect they will tell you honestly. If you don’t, then that may be part of the problem.
As I say, players wanting to move could be as simple as they want to play with the friends at another club – No problem whatsoever – that’s for all your effort and hard work and I wish you well.
However, if players are moving to get a better practice and match day experience, then we need to do some soul searching.
We need to look at how we conduct ourselves; our organisation; our practices; our approach as a coach and numerous other areas rather than assume the player has had their head turned and been “Tapped Up” in the first instance. Learn as a coach from the situation, and gain experience from it for the future.
Being around the block for a while, and the experiences I have, I believe that coaches who stick to the rules, abide by the codes of conducts and put their egos aside for the sake of the players are in the minority, and I wholeheartedly hope this changes.
Of course, there is always a flipside. I have seen coaches trying to lure players to join they team before matches, during matches and after matches. In fact, I have also seen and spoke to coaches who are qualified referees, admit that during some games they are refereeing, they have tried to talk players into joining the team they coach! You can cast your own judgment on that!
However, the culture of our soceity, or as deep as the actual human make up is, we focus too much on the negative scenarios that pop up and they stick in our minds.
Maybe its time to focus on the positive things, trust that people will do the right thing in difficult peer pressure situations and celebrate all the good work that is being done by some excellent coaches and wonderful volunteers around the football grounds every day.
In a long winded way, what I am trying to get across is that before you make assumptions, accusations or make allegations not just regarding player transfers, but in life!
Try to make sure you have a sound understanding of the situation and what the rules are. And if you are unsure, as I have been on several occasions, find out what they are from the appropriate people who do know.
Please, please, please, think about the consequences and the effect it may have on a coach when false accusations are made and passed around as Chinese whispers within the football community.
Any untruthful comments may cause people in volunteer positions a lot of stress and anxiety, which may have a knock effect for their families, and of course… you may have the wrong end of the stick…