There is a girl who loves to play football. She would like to be on a team, train twice a week and have matches on a Saturday just like the boys, but it’s not possible as there isn’t a club locally that provides this for her.
It’s a shame because she has every attribute needed to become a fabulous footballer. She has great pace, and rarely have I seen a child able to press an opponent with such proficiency. She has the desire and most importantly her will is strong.
Does she understand the game? I'm not totally convinced of this yet. It may be tied up with other issues which affect the way she plays. I’ll hold my judgement on this.
My Soccer group trains on Monday afternoon. At the start of the term, I had three girls trial the session. This is something, as a coach, that I offer to all new starts. The reason I do this is;
1. I want the child to enjoy what they have signed up for, so it’s important they try out beforehand.
2. As a mum, I am always being persuaded to sign up for things which, seem like a good idea at the time but often end up not working out. It can be annoying and a waste of money.
3. I pride myself on doing things right. My maxim has always been if it's not good enough for my kids it's not good enough for yours.
I was absolutely delighted to have three girls on a team with 12 boys. For football, it's a fairly decent ratio. I thought I can build on this and finally get my girls team off the ground. I was disappointed that I had lost two out of my three girls after the trial.
Why do I want a girls’ team? I don't really but it's necessary here's why.
I'll use my 8-year-old as an example. He's been playing football with a club since he was 5. He's had a football at his feet since he was 3 (quite old for some) He's been in an environment that has developed him for the past three years. He trains twice a week with matches on Saturday. After school, he's more than likely going to be playing football with his mates. He understands the game and knows how to produce a result.
So, what's missing? Why did I lose two girls from my group of three?
Here's what I think. This is only my opinion based on my own observations it may not hold true for another mixed group
Two of the three girls have just recently started playing football. Their skill set is basic compared to the boys who have been playing for years, so there is uncertainty on their part. From watching them during the session it became obvious that they were not sure how to play the game. Their response to a situation was slower so by the time they had figured out what to do the moment has passed. The boys had taken possession of the ball and were already three passes down the field.
If this imbalance is ongoing the resultant effect is that the girls don't get passed to. This leads to a vicious cycle of girls getting left out of a mixed game.
We all know that practice results in confidence, so we need to give the girls the confidence to make quick decisions which will allow them to get into the game.
The developmental stages of sportspersons will look a bit like this
Stage 1 unconscious incompetence;
Stage 2 conscious incompetence;
Stage 3 conscious competence;
Stage 4 unconscious competence.
So now there is one. My golden girl. The girl who has the mental strength to pursue her sporting interests even when the odds are stacked against her. She’s not self-doubting in any other aspects of her life. She's in a band and performs in front of an audience.
As a coach/facilitator, it is my job to encourage her, open the game up for her so she can start to make her own opportunities. Praise her every time she presses an opponent with pace and tenacity. Help her read and understand the game so she knows when and how to make her next move.
I want girls to feel confident enough to know that their choices are right and not to second-guess themselves – because there is one thing I know for sure - the boys don't.
Football, as with all team sport, provides you with life skills, not just football skills.
This is why I would like an all-girl football team so that I can progress them at the same time, they can grow together as a team and learn how to create lasting bonds. I am the Owner of Multi-Sport Academy and Spraoi Active After School Programme.