We have a football convert in the house. It took him a long time but N is now obsessed with football. Mostly talking about it, but now playing it too. Yes, he’s been joining a football team.
While most children start playing football much younger, N wasn’t fussed about it. Yes, he’d play in the garden with his cousin and in school. But otherwise, he preferred tennis. But the Euros came, the talk at school increased, he watched a lot of matches. And ever since then he’s been keen.
He started at after school football club (swapping from multisports) partway through year 6 and really enjoyed it. Although I think parents are being a bit diddled. I expected that they’d do drills and practice. Learn some skills. But according to N, the external coaches just let them lead what they want to do, and don’t actually teach them anything. They seem to spend lots of time playing whatever they want, and then playing some ‘matches’. No drills or anything.
N loved it though – getting to play football with his friends.
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At Christmas he got given a football goal*, so when it’s dry he gets to play out and kick a ball about.
But just before Easter N decided he wanted to change and play for the local football team, reducing his tennis sessions and stopping playing matches. We did a bit of a deal, that he could drop tennis to 1 private and 1 group session. Plus any others he wants to do – I’m hoping that the junior tennis informal sessions start again on Sundays, or that he’ll come and play with me sometimes.
Joining the football club
Joining the football team wasn’t as easy as I’d anticipated. Mainly because they’re not massively organised. They need someone like me sorting out the admin! The coach doesn’t answer emails so it was a case of turning up when a match was on to speak to him. Thankfully we got lots of tips via N’s school friends who play in the team already.
It seems N missed the ‘transfer window’ which applies for grassroots football as well as the top flight game. That made me laugh. It meant he can do training with the team and play in friendlies, but league and cup matches were out until the new season after summer.
Until the clocks changed, there was no real training schedule, so it was still a while to wait. But already N’s done 3 training sessions, and there were at least 3 friendlies coming up he might get to play in..
He knows a lot of the team already from school, and having met others at parties over the year, he’s fitted in well.
I think he’s got a lot of practising to do before he gets anywhere near as good as some in the team, given they’ve all been playing for years. But he’s keen, he works hard, and hopefully it’ll help his fitness, as well as giving him different skills. Playing in a team has to be good too.
The first match
Playing under 11s means it’s still 9 a side, 30 minutes each half. And they try and ensure everyone gets to play – they can switch players in and out as they want. They have said they’re looking for more players going into the next season, in the hope that the following year they’ll have a large enough squad to get players for 11 a side. So N’s joining was timely for him.
He’s now played in his first football match. They dug out some spare team kit for him and he looked very smart in it. It was a local derby, with the town’s main team coming to ours.
Due to some children not being able to play, he got to step in starting at right back. He’s not usually a defender but said he enjoyed it, being able to watch forward, and not worry about going offside. He got taken off, then came back on after someone was injured, so he was on the wing. It was a good first match to play in – his team won convincingly. He can even say it was a clean sheet while he was on.
He really enjoyed being part of the team, was grateful to have had so much time on the pitch. He’s been reliving it for the days afterwards.
Being a football mum
I never thought I’d be a football mum. I suppose I’ve had some experience being a sportsmum, and at this age, most of the parents come along and watch the matches. So it means I get to meet more parents too. So far everyone ‘s been lovely, and it’ll be another team of parents who all get on too.
Hopefully N enjoys joining a football team longer term. We’re hoping there’ll be more consistent training days and a bit more of a heads up for matches. With tennis, we knew at the start of the season what weekends matches were on, who we’d be playing each season. With football, they currently don’t have weekday training.
With matches we’re currently lucky to get 1, maybe 2 weeks notice. I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with that. I want to make sure N can play as much as he’s given the opportunity to. But it does mean that trying to plan weekend days out or meet ups with friends is going to be harder, when we don’t have the morning free and don’t know timings. Hopefully it’ll get clearer once we’ve been involved for longer.
Take your football fan to visit the National Football Museum in Manchester for a great day out
Do your children play in a football team?