Young footballers need to learn basics

Cayman’s youngsters need to show more loyalty to their sports clubs otherwise in the long-term they will not fulfil their potential.

That’s the view of coach Ernie ‘Gillie’ Seymour, a sports instructor for the Ministry of Sports, specialising in football. He feels that Caymanian youths are just interested in playing for the best teams in whatever sport they pursue with little regard to how much time and effort coaches and administrators have put into their development over the years.

He was talking at the George Hicks playing fields on Monday waiting for Under-20 footballers to turn up for national team practice. Although a few phoned to say they could not make it for valid reasons, absolutely no one showed up. Seymour was hoping for around 17.

‘Loyalty begins at home,’ he said. ‘It has to be taught by the parents to the kids, how to be loyal at school, your club and your country if you get selected for national level. This is a big honour for kids and senior players throughout the world. We want our national teams to do well but are we doing the groundwork?

‘Even kids at school have little discipline. They don’t want to pay attention to their teachers and talk when their teachers are talking. I witness it when I work in schools and it’s very bad. Teachers have to spend more time scolding kids and trying to get their attention than carrying on with their lessons.

‘It makes what I’m doing very difficult because you’re spending half the training session trying to get the person’s attention. In my case, growing up, my grandmother would have rapped me around the back of my head. Then you had to pay attention. Also, when adult people were speaking you had to listen. Now the kids want to talk at the same time as the adults, especially teachers.’

Seymour also feels that pre-teen children do not learn the basics in football enough which makes it difficult for coaches to instruct teenagers. ‘At the youth level you don’t coach, you teach. You’ve got to teach fundamentals. Demonstrate if necessary because a picture means a lot to a kid.’

Seymour wants to see more youth development because many are not able to do the basics. ‘Are you just there to try to win a game or trying to teach a kid how to pass properly, how to dribble, shoot, control and pass the ball? Because if they don’t get those fundamentals at a young age you get a whole load of drop outs later on, at 16 and 17. It’s happening now in Cayman and in England.

‘The positive things I see here are that primary school and Under-13s are really where the future of Cayman football lies. That’s where the football association should put all their emphasis. Right now they’ve got to save the U-13s because when they reach puberty that’s when you start losing kids. One of the reasons for losing kids at that age is because they are not taught the fundamentals at primary school and slightly older which is the golden age of learning.

‘So when they get to young adult stage they’re going to be embarrassed, people are going to laugh at them if they’re not controlling the ball well. Or if somebody’s making them look like a fool on the field because they can’t play well, they’re going to drop out of the game. I’m working with Miss Leslie at George Hicks School with the girls and we’re teaching them the basics and moving from step to step.

‘I can show you the charter programme for England. They’re emphasising that now because they have been losing a lot of players like that too. And England has good, top class football. The Brazilians call coaches of young kids formation coaches. He teaches them how to pass, dribble, control the ball, shoot, head, goalkeep well… ‘When he reaches national level the coach doesn’t have to teach him those things. He just deals with tactics and fitness, free kicks and set plays. His job is easy. But here, at national level, we’re teaching players how to kick a ball. That should not be. It should be happening at the club and school level. That’s why whatever school I go into, I always teach the fundamentals.’

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