Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bethel U9's 6-0 Y Felinheli U9's

That scoreline looks pretty bad, but when you consider that this was only a 30 minute game, it's even worse. 18-0 would be a more realistic scoreline over 90 minutes.

We all know what it's like. A strong team with no weaknesses faces a side that turns out mainly for social and leisurely reasons. A midfield bull charges through a petrified defence and creates any number of one-on-one's with a powerless goalkeeper. The ball hardly crosses the half way line, and when it does it is returned by a formaidable defence.

The opposing manager is watching the bloodbath and generously replaces his best players with subs. The subs are no weaker.

It made me wonder whether it's worth it. We are a village club with one small primary school. Year 4 is strangely devoid of football fanatics in Y Felinheli. Since we formed the club 3 years ago, 5 potential players have moved house to be replaced by childless families.

Year 5 is different. there are 15 good players. And below Year 4 there are 8-10 in each schoolyear who enjoy the game. But at registration tonight, I will probably only get 5 players signed up. Like last night's game, I will need to make up the side with 3 or 4 players from the U8's team.

Youth football operates in the same way as any level of the game. The best players tend to migrate to the best teams. I heard of one young player that told his coach that he left Felin to play for a Caernarfon side because it was like leaving Norwich to go and play for Liverpool. If there are any small villages in the area without a club, the real keen players from the village look outside. And naturally they choose a club that wins games and trophies.

There are also a few coaches in youth football that like to operate like Abramovich. They select the best players from the whole region and create some sort of superteam. They win every game with ease and present themselves with a trophy at the end of the season. But really, what's the point? By cherry-picking the best players they remove all opposition, and nobody benefits.

The worrying thing is that Bethel aren't a superteam. they're just a normal village side with a good reputation and a dcent catchment area from other villages. So we face a long hard season of struggling to scratch a team together and then facing a hammering in most games.

I sat my son down after last night's game and asked him what he wanted me to do. Is it worth the struggle to keep the team alive with so few players? His answer was yes, that we should represent the place where we live and if that meant losing then so be it. I was humbled, and disappointed with myself. I won't give up this easily, and I'll be stepping up my recruitment drive.

If you've got an 8 year old child with a soft spot for the underdog, get in touch. We've got a few feathers to ruffle.

1 comment:

The Jet Set said...

It seems that the comedy show The Game is right; a lot of parents/coaches seem to believe that these age group teams are some kind of stage for themselves to showcase their potential achievements rather than the kids to enjoy football.

As a veteran of the Aberconwy and District U12 football league I can say that playing with added pressure is not enjoyable. In fact now I can only play in teams with people I know. If I have ever played in teams with people I don't know I'm transported back to that miserable time.

What you said reminds me of that tournament in Bangor over the Summer, while the other team was "Switching On" and "Focussing", your team was messing around in the grass. I know who I'd rather have played for when I was that age.