Junior Football: Why so serious?

As a referee, junior football tournaments are seemingly the only way for us to keep our cash topped up throughout the close season, by officiating dozens of small sided games across plenty of age groups. And where you see junior football, you are pretty much guaranteed to come across these types of people:

  • The well-wishing parents that are there to watch their child have a bit of fun
  • The pushy parents that believe their child is the next Lionel Messi and say that they’ve already had trials for every Premier League team under the sun
  • The parent that’s happy to step up to be the manager and have a laugh while enjoying the company of other parents, all the while seeing their kids enjoy themselves

And last, but probably the most important (and irritating!)

  • The supposedly helpful FA Qualified Coach who has it set in their mind to turn an innocent bunch of 11-year-olds into World-Beating superstars by any means necessary…

Now, I admit that these categories are sweeping generalisations of the junior football community, but the fact is that the higher the skill level of the team, the more you see of the person mentioned in my final category of people you will see. However, while I think their shouting at a bad first touch or a shot off target from an 11-year-old is disgusting and deplorable, it’s unfortunate that they do tend to make better teams. Look at Sir Alex Ferguson, he succeeds at Manchester United because of his atmosphere of fear being everpresent in his changing rooms, improving discipline immeasurably no doubt. This is coupled with the fact that the referees dare not go under 10 minutes of added time when he’s behind: Also known as “Fergie Time”, for those unfamiliar with the concept.

If I’m brutally honest, junior football teams are getting more and more serious each year. The matching tracksuits, the rack of water bottles with the club’s logo on, the initials of each player on said tracksuits; You didn’t even see that with the world’s best teams as recently as 30 odd years ago! And I can only pinpoint this to the growing footballing business. It’s just getting out of control, the new broadcasting rights for the Premier League for this season have just been sold for just over £3billion. An absolutely indescribable amount of money.

But I’m going to finish this rather blunt piece with an aptly blunt point: Leave the anger to the professionals, and just let the children enjoy themselves, they’re only young once and I’m sure that they wouldn’t want bad memories of their childhood hobby.

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