Yesterday I took Gabriel to play football. This is the third consecutive week we’ve been (plus one week in early December).
For the first time we left the session early because Gabriel wasn’t interested in playing with a ball. He just wasn’t in the mood for playing football. Yes he was having fun, but wanted to run around the sports hall having races.
But that isn’t why we are going. We could go to the park if we are just going to have races, and paying £5 a session for him to do this has left us with a number of decisions and reflections.
If you asked Gabriel whether he’d enjoyed it, you’d get a positive response and he’d shout “football!” But why are we taking Gabriel to play football and should we continue with it?
I think we’re taking Gabriel to the football sessions for a number of reasons. It’s is good to learn a sport, it teaches you a number of things, motivation, leadership, team working, respect, handling pressure as well as the obvious health and fitness aspects.
From a football point if view, there’s been a lot of media coverage recently how the game needs to be learnt at a young age, with a focus on fun (not winning) and importantly in this country, an emphasis on the ball not just running and fitness. Learning (as I did) by playing competitive eleven-a-side on muddy adult pitches is not the way to do it. The rise of the premier league means that kids are interested in football at a very young age and it’s seen as a glamorous part of everyday life now.
Everyone has an opinion on it!
It’s a world away from the decrepit working class game pre Italia 90.
However, this isn’t about Gabriel going to football sessions to become a great player though, it is all about his fun, because my experience is that knowing football is a great thing for a boy. I’ve taken so much from playing and watching over my life. It’s something that you can always talk about.
Football has given me lifelong friendships, and kept me close to my Family, as well as helping me integrate into Michelle’s Family. I also know being a reasonable player will make school life a lot easier but is my experience clouding my judgement?
Gabriel’s football session is very well run and starts with a chance for the lads to have a kick about with the adults. There is then skills coaching, followed by a game. The kids are divided into two groups by age. After the initial kick about the parents take a back seat and let the coaches coach.
The room is full of twenty kids aged 3-5 all playing football. They are all bedecked in vibrant football kits which are designed to be intimidating and aggressive (this is no place for the peppa pig t-shirts like nursery & play group). This has allowed us however to talk about colours and ‘orange’ has become a favourite colour because of his shirt. He’s also pleased when anyone else is wearing an orange (Bradford) shirt and this has allowed us to talk & learn about teams together.
As Gabriel is still relatively new and the youngest in the group I have tended to stay involved throughout the session. Encouraging him to kick the ball to me as he has been reluctant to join in the group and games. My plan being to gradually reduce this involvement week by week as he became more involved with his team. However this situation hasn’t changed over the weeks. He hadn’t become any more inclined to join in with his team and listen to the coach.
However has my approach been the right approach?
Has my over enthusiasm and over exuberance meant that Gabriel is reluctant to join the group?
Should I have taken a step back, just sat back and said “Here’s a football, go and join in” ?
Is he just too young and are we pushing him into something that he isn’t mature enough for yet? Or am I being inpatient?
The coaches and other parents stay stick with it. They have the experience of serving plenty of other kids taking months to get into it.
The last thing we want to do is to let my enthusiasm for Gabriel playing football put him off playing. So should we leave it for now and come back to it in a few months? Help!