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why become a coach? the wrong place at the wrong time
My sport was rugby, I’d played for many years and had some great fun on and off of the field. I have life-long friends as a result and all my plumbing, building, carpentry and electrical needs are met by teammates and opponents from over the years. Near the end of my playing career I’d taken some coaching awards without ever really thinking that I’d use them……….
I have a very understanding wife and two children. My eldest child Molly enjoyed sport as she grew up and although she dabbled in tag rugby at primary school she much preferred netball and hockey. My son Ted on the other hand was desperate to play rugby as soon as he was allowed. So when he reached the grand age of 6 I took him along to Bristol Saracens RFC for his first taste of club rugby.
Ted joined a group of around 10 boys and girls that made up the Bristol Saracens U7’s. He really enjoyed being involved and the coach did a good job trying to keep all the young people engaged. This continued for about 3 months until the coach decided that being ignored by 6 and 7 year olds for 90 minutes in a wide variety of weather conditions was not how he wanted to spend his Sunday mornings.
We were suddenly without a coach. Who would take on this important role of helping to shape a young person’s life? All of the other parents looked at me………………………..as I looked at the ground. I eventually looked up, this was a sign for the other parents to congratulate me on becoming the new coach.
I’ve now coached the same group of children (we’ve had a few join and a few leave) for 12 years. They are all now 18 and as I look back I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed……….some of it. Cold, frosty Sunday mornings and dark wet waterlogged Wednesdays, watching them go on a two season long losing streak only to win a game and for them not to know how to celebrate.
When you don’t win very often, winning does not become a priority. You look for little victories – who can make 5 tackles, who can make 5 passes, who can fill the water bottles. Not winning helped me focus on improving the children’s individual skills, helping them to strive to be decent people, how to accept defeat and eventualyl how to win with good grace.
Working with young people and seeing them grow into adulthood has been incredibly rewarding. There hasn’t been a session or a match where I haven’t laughed out loud or smiled on the inside when you make a breakthrough and it appears that they might have listened to you after all.
There are plenty of people out there who are much better coaches than me but I know I’ve had an influence on these players and they are a little bit better than they would have been had we never met. Helping players to improve is part of a coach’s job but I hope my biggest impact on them will be that they continue playing rugby as adults because of the experiences they have had. They will always have someone to call if work needs doing on their house.