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Angry Grassroots Football Parents

Article from an anonymous parent – “It’s the other grassroots football parents that are the problem!”

In this honest blog from an anonymous parent, they outline their feelings towards other grassroots football parents and why they are creating a problem for the grassroots game.

I used to roll my eyes at the parents wrapping up warm and trudging onto football fields on rainy winter weekend mornings. But now I am one. 

Aside from the fact I’m surely only weeks way from getting frostbite, I can’t quite bring myself to embrace my child’s love of football. Some would argue that a boy developing a passion for football is just nature taking its course. And sure, running around and learning new skills is great and should be encouraged. He plays with his pals at school; at home in the garden; and chats about his favourite team and players non-stop. 

So, it was inevitable that we’d end up signing him up to a weekly hour-long session of football skills so he and dozens of other young boys can charge around and also develop some ball control skills. My son is delighted and wakes up with a smile on his face, ready to pull on his football socks and shin pads. I love his enthusiasm but what I can’t get past is the parental politics that goes on along the edges of the football pitch. 

Unlike many other kids’ hobbies where parents drop them off then stand idly by (I’m thinking of swimming lessons or music lessons here), grassroots football parents are a different breed. There’s no checking the news on phones beside the football pitch on a freezing morning; or quickly catching up on WhatsApp messages; or even having a chat. It would seem kids’ football training is a serious business, even for parents with children as young as 6 years old. Some of these parents take a Saturday-morning kickabout so seriously you’d think they were awaiting a call up to the England team. Oh, and none of the kids involved are over the age of nine. 

My biggest bugbear is the hordes of parents – mainly dads – who seem very keen to get very involved. Plenty of these men act like their small charges are the beautiful game’s next Beckham, Grealish or Kane. Kitting their children out in the extortionate replica kits of their heroes, these unsmiling parents proceed to heckle and shout from the sidelines as their kids do their best to engage in a skills session. 

A lot of the fathers I have encountered also dress the part too: often turning out in training tops as though they themselves are Premier League managers. They lambast their kids if they appear to be having fun rather than remaining 100 per cent focused on the coaching session, and they grimly stare at the coach while ordering their kids to “tackle”. It’s almost laughable but I do my best to keep a straight face. 

Perhaps we do have a future star player of the England football team in our midst on a Saturday morning, but I think that’s probably highly unlikely. Instead, why not let the children enjoy their football and watch them take part with a smile on your face? 

Obviously voicing what I believe would cast me out in an instant. I’d probably be looked down on for not treating a group of six-year-olds running in and out of cones with the seriousness it deserves. As long as my child is listening to his coach, not disrupting anyone else and enjoying a bit of football, I am delighted. I have no ambition to stick my oar in. 

Instead, I clutch my travel mug of coffee, wear two pairs of socks and a bobble hat and pray that my child’s football phase is over before next winter.

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