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  1. So, about a year or so ago I started to consider getting into youth football coaching, as my 6yo (now 7) son started training with one of the local teams. At the time, @tiger_rick and @Scott Malbranquedid their utmost to put me off by sharing stories about parents being massive wankers and whatnot. I took that on board and watched intently from the touchlines during the summer as my son started to play friendly matches for his new team. The coach, which I did not realise at the time as you couldn't tell, was doing this for the first time. He had coached the development squad for several months before being asked to set up a new under-7s side featuring his son for the upcoming season. After a summer of friendlies and a mini-tournament, the team entered the local league (competitive yet non-published, as is the case for all teams below U12's in this country as per the FA) from September. After the first game, where we were defeated by a team which included a player that was twice the size of our largest player (WHERE'S HIS PLAYER CARD PAL), the coach admitted that he needed help. Training once a week was fine, but managing and coaching a team with everything else that is involved on a matchday was too much for him and he asked for volunteers. I stepped up, and became his assistant. "I can be your Tito baby..." Most of the boys could barely kick a ball last summer and over the course of the season they became a decent little side- picking up 3 wins from their final 5 games. We were very much a 'player-centred' side from the outset, which is the philosophy instilled by the club (and one that I wholeheartedly agree with), rather than a results driven side which ultimately can hinder the development of a player and also the coach. It took a while to get some of the parents to buy into this, especially when we were routinely battered for the first 5 games of the season but we stuck with our philosophy. Do we want to win? Of course, as do the boys and especially the parents. But at this age the result is not the most important thing and it also took a while for some of the parents to appreciate this and look at the long-term picture. We had a very technical approach to the game. Getting the boys as comfortable as possible with the ball at their feet, no long balls where possible, playing out from the back etc. Sorry Keith. Although we lost most of our games, it was clear that of the other 9 teams, I'd say only one side were technically more superior to us. Our losses were as a result of the other teams playing to their physical strengths- being taller, faster and more able to twat the ball from 16 yards out. By the end of the season our technical ability allowed us to cope with that disadvantage much better and control games (and win more often). Fast forward to last month, a couple of weeks after our season ended, our coach approaches me. His son is a year younger that the rest of the team and is also very short for his age. The club have asked him if he would like to coach a new under-7s team for next season, with his son dropping down to his own age group. He told me he would only consider it if I was willing to take over his existing team and told the club he believed I would make a very good head coach. And here we are- I am now about to enter the world of chasing monthly subs, filling it rabbit holes and juggling teamsheets because one of the players overslept. Well this is my life now. I took over training permanently a few weeks ago and had to start recruiting for a new player to replace the coach's son. So, what do you do in this scenario? Why, you ask your son to scout his classmates!! Is a 7 year old the best judge of footballing ability? No Dan, probably not. But he told me who the best player was in his class, who happened to be one of his best friends. Hmmmm. I had a chat with his mum during a school run and interestingly he has been training with another club for the past couple of years, but they can't get a manager for matchdays. His mum likes the club he trains with but his son is chomping at the bit for game time, and therefore is open to moving. Cue me spending last Saturday afternoon with his parents watching him play in a friendly tournament, feeling like Peter Kenyon tapping up a young French player. He played well, so I asked them if he fancied playing in a friendly for us on Sunday (my first game as head coach). Boy, you better be right about your classmate being good, there's a referral fee for you in this. During the pre-match warm-up he looked very two-footed, and I start dreaming of Santi Cazorla. I started him on the bench and brought him on halfway through the first half- BANG scored within 30 secs. Completed his hat-trick by half time and ended the game with 6 goals, with a couple of assists to boot too. My word, listen to your kids- they fucking know!! Now I just have to hope he definitely signs, there is a small chance that his club might have a manager next season. So now I'm preparing for my first season in charge. I've already gone crazy with buying training equipment, entered the team into a tournament next month and started planning my training sessions for the next few weeks. I'm listening to podcasts on youth coaching, reading books on this during my commute and talking to other coaches all the time. Booking my Level 1 course soon. I'm knee-deep into this shit now and absolutely loving it, it feels like this is something I've always wanted to do. So, coaching. Any of you have experience- not just in football but other sports? What advice would you give to a newly appointed coach like myself? What shit have you had to go through? What fantastic moments have you endured? Why are parents sometimes so shit at replying to the WhatsApp group? And why does everyone lie about 'this player had a trial with Ipswich' or whoever?? Let's hear ya!
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