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Under a new FA directive, media organisations (which includes local newspapers, club and league websites and social media) have been banned from printing results of matches featuring teams between the age groups of under-7 and under-11. It is causing a bit of a stir and the nationals have picked the story up with glee. I’m interested to get the coaches’ perspective, as you work on the shop floor and see first hand how children react when they slip to a defeat. Which camp are you in?
Are you with the FA, who state: “Our aspiration is to ensure that a progressive, child-friendly approach pervades and we challenge the win-at-all-costs mentality that has been recognised to stifle development and enjoyment for young people.” Or do you agree with Martin Samuel from the Daily Mail, who believes it is sucking the fun out of the game and writes: “Well, here’s a newsflash from the father of boys. If it’s your lad in goal, he knows. They’re eight; they’re not idiots. They can count.”
So, are you on side with the FA over the media blackout or have they scored an own goal?
It isn't a new directive, as results have been 'banned' for several years at the younger age groups.
My view is that children (and parents and coaches) know if they have won or lost - so to publish or not to publish is not the issue. The issue is scorelines of 7, 8, 9 and well beyond to nil, which has no learning or development for either the winning team or the losing team.
I am a big fan of the Tag Rugby philosopy, that when the score gets to certain point, the points are taken as the result, but the game continues (and in some cases with the mixing of sides to support learning to play with others amongst other things)
I have spoken to leagues in the past around how these 'annihilations' could be addressed. My thoughts are:
- Start the season in September and not August (when most children will be away for some of that month due to school holidays)
- League seasons are often completed by early March, so by pushing the the 'official' start to the season back, it would mean the season lasts longer and in the case of bad weather, enables games in hand to be played at sensible times. I would also take December off, but that is a different case in point (maybe run indoor/futsal festivals while the pitches have time to recover?!?!?!?!)
- Use September as a 'seeding' month - teams play each other in round robin events, and you can identify (within a reason) the stronger teams and allocate them into divisions that way.
- The strong teams from the previous season may not be the strongest in the next season (growth spurts, school pressures, change of players) and the more balanced leagues would enable closer games and, crucially, more development and learning opportunuties for the players.
- The focus should be on development of the players - winning the league by christmas and by scoring 150 goals does not make for competition, character development and the increase in competence.
- there will also be freak results (Bradford winning at Stamford Bridge in the FA cup last season) but that is sport. The freak result shouldn't be a team winning 1-0 when they had won their previous games by a huge margin.
A good friend of mine has a comment that they used to make schools out of asbestos - just because it has always been this way, doesn't make it right does it?
Sport, like life, is about winning and losing. It is how you react and deal with that, and how the situations and environments are managed
Look forward to hearing others thoughts around this...
I had a rather heated with my Dad on this after the media had latched onto it and as usual, sensationalized it.
As Jon says, it's not a new topic, or revolutuonairy. And Martin Samuel's argument misses the point completely, as have most of the newpaper reports in the last few weeks.
Clearly, for the majority of kids, they know whether they have won or lost, that's not the issue at all.
I went to a junior league meeting a few years ago which discussed score posting and U6-11 lague tables for hours. After listening to an awful lot of nonsense I stood up and asked the board how many kids they had asked about whether they cared if scores and league tables were posted.......cue lengthy silence.
It reinforces the point the papers have missed. At these ages do many kids rush home to check the league website or match report? Yes they're happy or sad depending how the match went etc but that's in the moment and short term.
I helped host a mixed handball tournament last year for some local schools.The behaviour of the teachers from one school in particular was aboslutely disgraceful and shows that results posting at these age groups in mostly about stroking a coach's ego as opposed to the development or enjoyment of kids. Their school was very strong so I often let the other schools put on a extra player at 3-0 (like Jon said about rugby). The teachers lodged a complaint with my employer afterwards saying I was dishonest and not acting within the spirit of the game and if their kids were good enough to win 10-0 I should have marked that up correctly. The saddest part was that these young teachers were then backed by the principal of the school, who asked that I went and apoligized to the kids. Of course I refused, but did offer to highlight my point of view in a meeting with the staff. Unfortunately this offer was refused. At the tournament the other schools and teachers were shocked and angered by this school's behaviour, bith pupils and staff.
It goes to highlight that the score keeping and winning at all costs mentality are pushed onto these kids by adults, and mostly in football this is what we see too. As Jon says, this is the greater issue. Score reporting/posting being banned will only help if coaches understand its about the kids not them, but sadly we've all seen U12 teams with a 6ft GK and striker and route one football as that wins games and trophies so the coach can tell all his social media buddies that he's the man! It's a cultural shift that needs to occur.
This ban on posting scores and the irresponsible newpaper reports are not helping.
attached are 2 links, one from a forum in 2008 which had an interesting back and forth, and another from the popular whitehouse address about how to balance competition and score keeping.
In my opinion score keeping/reporting and competetion are not the same thing, they can be mutually exclusive. However, as kids get older then they do become more intertwined. In the U7-11 age group the FA have highlighted, I'm 100% in agreement.
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