As our kids grow up, it happens to many of us. Especially if, dare I say it, we happen to be mums to boys. There comes a time when the park, the soft play and the company of Mummy just isn’t enough for a child. They need action, they need excitement. They need mud.
The time comes for them to start playing football.
You may not like this idea. You may see it as an interruption to lie-ins and to Saturdays as a family. But is it really fair to hold your child back for selfish reasons? Football matters to kids. It especially matters to boys. To be good at football is to be cool and popular. To be pretty rubbish at football, but to play weekly, will always improve a child’s skills. Better than sitting in front of the telly, eh?
They learn discipline, they learn teamwork, they learn how to lose and they keep fit and healthy. What’s not to love?
My son was 6 when he started playing football for his current team. That’s five years as a football mum. In that time I’ve picked up some valuable tips and information which others starting out on that journey may be interested in.
This is not an exhaustive list of tips, it’s based purely on my experience and some of it may need to be taken with a pitch of salt.
Football matters. It’s not ‘just a game’. The sooner you realise this, the easier your life will be.
Football requires commitment. It’s usually every Saturday morning from September until Easter (sometimes longer than that). Don’t be the family that only turns up half of the time.
Watch your child and support them – they will really appreciate it.
If you have to pay weekly, don’t forget to pay!
Never say anything bad about your child’s team-mates, their parents, the opposition or the ref (say it in your head to yourself, if you have to).
If the coach or the other parents shout horrible things, leave! Find another team. Nobody should put up with that for an 8 year old child on a Saturday morning. Not all teams are like that.
If there’s a ‘respect barrier’ at the game, stand behind it! If you don’t, your child’s team could get in trouble.
Let the coach know if your kid isn’t going to make it that week – it’s really annoying to be short of players.
Some kids have to be the subs. The coach will usually give them half a game. Asking for more or nagging the coach won’t go down well.
Help to clear up at the end. The poor coach has to dismantle both goals and collect in the cones and the corner flags. He’s not paid, he was there way earlier than you and he’s got a family to go home to too!
Your child will get muddy. Shove it all in the washing machine – it will all survive. Even the goalie gloves (at lowish temperature), although not the shin pads.
If you happen to be married to the coach, suggest that each family washes their own shirt every week – or that the team’s shirts are rotated around the families.
If you happen to be married to the coach, advise him to check there is adequate drying space before he helpfully washes two full loads of muddy kit and bibs.
Your child will get grumpy and upset if the team loses. So will the coach. If he happens to be your husband…
Your child will also get upset about bad ref’s decisions. They will be blind to any bad decisions that have gone in their favour.
If you’re really unlucky, the grumpiness can go on well into Saturday afternoon. (Sorry!)
And that’s about it! If anyone else has any more advice for touchline mums (and dads), please suggest it in the comments below.