Football is nothing new to me, having watched my husband play over the years and then our eldest son, who started playing at the age of four at Primary School.
However, I was prompted to write this letter because of the disturbing comments that are still being made by some youth coaches and parents alike. The details are set out below.
A Caymanian player (who will remain nameless because of fear of retribution) had a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, who is a bit smaller in stature, so, to avoid accidentally knocking the goalkeeper over due to the speed in which he was traveling toward the goal, as well as protecting himself from falling, the player briefly held onto the goalkeeper after he shot the ball. No foul was called and I’m sure had the referee thought it was intentional he would have called the foul.
The comment passed from the opposing team’s coach to his goalkeeper, which I heard myself, was “next time put your foot out so he can run into it” (“he” being the forward). As if that was not demeaning enough, a parent, who I assume is the assistant coach, felt it necessary to taunt the attacking player by stating “what kind of baller you are?” simply because he missed the goal. What in God’s name are some of these so called youth coaches doing, teaching our future generation of footballers with that kind of attitude and utmost disrespect for others. Not only is this unacceptable and appalling, it instils hate and anger, which leads to disrespect toward others.
I guess some people will stoop to any level in order to win a game, which is sad, because it is our Caymanian kids that are being demoralized, and at the end of the day, it is they who will suffer. As the Bible states, “what you reap you will sow”.
Personally, I take pleasure in cheering on the youngsters of other teams when they make a good play; yes, even when competing against my son’s team. I recall my husband asking many times, which side are you on? My reply is always the same, our son’s of course, but, as I tell him and others who find it unusual for me to cheer on the competition, there is no harm in encouraging the other team.
Maybe some of the youth coaches can gain some guidance along with understanding, respect and patience for players from individuals like Lee Ramoon, who coaches George Town Sports Club’s U-14 team. His team has lost a majority of matches, but that does not deter them from coming out and giving it their all, suffice to say, this is because they have the respect of their coach, who not only encourages them to do their best, but is also polite when communicating to them, excellent job Lee.
If you have to shout at your players, let it be words of encouragement. There is absolutely no reason why you should see it necessary to demean and demoralize our youth who are at such an impressionable age.
You can send your coaches anywhere in the world for training and this may improve their skills, but the lack of respect, patience and positively will always hinder these youngsters’ performance, now and in the future, whether they want to accept it or not.