Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Penalty Kids

A few weeks ago we held a Junior football tournament in Y Felinheli and our Under 9's team reached the semi-final against Menai Bridge.

The scores were level at full time and so we went to the golden goal. Two periods of 5 minutes extra time. Still 0-0.

We played another four periods and still it was scoreless.

People started to ask about penalties to decide the game, but I refused point blank. It was clear that penalties had no place in the junior game. The thinking is that the misery of one child who fails is not offset by the joy of the winning team. And quite right too. We eventually lost after 42 minutes of play.

Last weekend, I took a team to Llangefni's Junior Tounrament. Again, we reached a semi final.
Again, my boring tactics ensured a 0-0 draw, and there was no goal after extra time. "OK", said the referee."We go to penalties".

Penalties? Penalties? I couldn't believe it. My middle-class liberal soul was destitute. I couldn't be a part of this could I?

Inside I was buzzing. I chose my five penalty takers and made them stand in arms on the half-way line. They loved it.

I'm ashamed to say that when the little lad from Amlwch blasted his ball over the bar, I cheered. I should lose my coaching badge for that. It was shameful. Yet still, it was perhaps the most exciting moment of my time as a coach. And when our Dutch midfield maestro hammered home the winning kick, I skipped round Lon Talwrn like David Pleat back in the day.

I took an illicit pleasure out of those penalties. It was like watching cockfighting. We should never have put those kids through that, but bloody hell, we won. Somehow it didn't seem too bad after all.

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