The angry football match

With the end of the season in sight, my son’s under 12s football team had a league game against a team that was beatable. The opposition had beaten them earlier in the season, but my son’s team were short on players that day. They should have won this one. Before the game, my husband (the coach) told us this team had a new coach who wasn’t very nice. Apparently they’d been doing better this season, since getting the nasty coach.

The game kicked off and the opposition scored almost immediately. Not good.

But, just two minutes later, my son had scored with a fantastic goal. 1-1.

Within five minutes, my son had scored again. 2-1. I was one very proud mum!

And, through all of this, the nasty coach shouted. Shouted and shouted and shouted. Even when his team were on top, he shouted at them. It wasn’t nice to listen to.

Our team took a corner and the opposition fumbled it and it rolled over their line. 3-1. We were really in the driving seat with only 20 minutes played.

And still the nasty coach yelled. He didn’t pause for breath. It must have been horrible for his players, but pretty disconcerting for ours too.

League games are supposed to have a referee allocated by the league. Often, there aren’t enough referees to go round. Then one of the coaches has to step up to referee the game. It was someone from the opposition who decided to step up for this game. Unfortunately.

When a coach from our team referees, they tend to favour the other team if a decision is uncertain. Not so with this particular referee. His own team pushed and pulled our players. It went unnoticed. But my son had a free kick awarded against him for shoulder barging a player. Which he didn’t do. He just fought hard for the ball. When it looked like their team weren’t going to be able to hang onto it, the referee decided my son must have shoulder barged the player.

This wasn’t the only free kick awarded against our team for ‘crimes’ that went completely unnoticed on the other side. There was even a penalty against us. Penalties are rare in under 12s football. This isn’t the premier league. Why not give kids a chance?

Every week, each team puts up a linesman – usually one of the dads. The linesman has to decide whether a ball has gone off and, if so, whose throw/ goal kick/ corner it is, as well as if a ball has gone offside. For the first time ever, my 14 year old son was the linesman. My eldest isn’t a footballer and never has been, but the coaching team for my son’s team has gone down from four to one or two in the last year. My son has started helping his dad out most weeks and it has been very valuable to my husband to have the extra pair of hands.

He did a good job as linesman, but the nasty coach had a big gob and a loud voice. He was very prone to shouting ‘off!’. The ref turned to my son and said ‘put the flag up if it’s off’. Who the hell is he to talk to a 14 year old boy who is just helping out his dad and his brother like that? And, as my husband pointed out to the ref, he didn’t put his flag up because the ball wasn’t out! This happened on more than one occasion too.

Meanwhile, the game was spiralling out of control. Was it any surprise with the nasty coach and the nasty, biased ref? From 3-1 up, suddenly we were drawing 4-4.

And then they got that penalty. We were losing 5-4.

You could see how angry and determined our players were. They’d been badly treated and they wanted to win that game.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Their confidence and morale had been thoroughly knocked by the nasty coach and the nasty ref. The odds were stacked against them. If the playing field had been even, they could so easily have won it.

They may have lost, but it was a moral victory for fairness.

(And don’t even get me started on the opposition goalie’s dad who spent half the game on the pitch, but the ref somehow didn’t notice. It was one seriously angry football match.)

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I absolutely hate people like that, they’re somehow allowed to become such important figures around children. That poor team of his, and everyone else too!! I’m not a violent person but I would have been so tempted to just push him over (and then run!).

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    • Ha ha! The ref is very lucky I didn’t hear him having a go at my teenage son! I can’t believe any parent would let their child go to a club where they just get yelled at all the time.

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  2. Sarah,
    Cheating has been endemic in professional sport for many years. As long ago as the late 1990s I was hearing about this kind of cheating in boys’ football. Sport mirrors life!

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    • I guess it does, but it’s very sad that adults will treat kids like this, I wouldn’t let my child play for a team where he got yelled at all the time.

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  3. I’ve witnessed some horribly angry coaches in my time and to be honest, if he was my son’s football coach, I would take him out of the team. I think it’s disgusting and so unnecessary. It’s supposed to be fun! I know that my son wouldn’t thrive in that environment. And as for the referee? Shame on him!

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    • Exactly that! I would never let a child of mine play for a team with a coach like that. I don’t understand parents who would let their child play for a team like that.

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  4. Over the years I’ve come across many horrible coaches like that and some parents that are beyond words. Some really really dirty teams, who foul players, tamp on ankles, knees, flying kicks to the thigh etc.

    I think the ones who play like that usually have parents who are effing and blinding at the side of the pitch. Some people need to realise that its supposed to be a fun way to keep fit at that age and not the premier league.

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    • They certainly do! It should all be about teamwork, supporting each other, trying hard and getting a bit of fresh air and exercise. If they also win the game, that’s a bonus. But winning shouldn’t be at whatever cost!

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  5. With my husband being a coach we’ve seen some awful attacks on kids and the coaches. These parents need to remember it’s all about fun & they are supposed to be role models for kids. It’s awful how some behave xx

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    • They certainly do! My husband is the coach too and we’ve seen a few nasty coaches over the years, but luckily on actual attacks! I think everyone involved in the game needs to show a bit more respect. x

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  6. I think they are taking things too seriously that they forgot that they are dealing with kids. At the end, its so amazing of you son’s team to be able to handle all the injustices. This will make them a better team I think. #CountryKids

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    • Thanks very much, that’s very true! It’s hard for kids to have to listen to that sort of thing, but they dealt with it very well.

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  7. This must have been such a frustrating game to watch as well as to play. I really feel for the team and it is not surprising they began to feel despondent. the other team and their coach should be ashamed of themselves, it is no way to behave and such a bad example to be setting for the children. Your son’s team are the real winners here I feel. #CountryKids

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    • Thanks very much, that’s just what I thought! They tried so hard, but the odds really were stacked against them.

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  8. This must have been so frustrating! It’s kids playing for goodness sake! I’ll never understand how people can be so aggressive at kids sports events. It sounds like your son’s team coped well under difficult circumstances x

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  9. Crikey, what a nightmare match and what horribly unsporting and unfair people. I can’t understand what they can gain from that – surely they’re meant to be setting a good example to other children and all they’re doing is making their own team think tuey can cheat and lie to win/

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  10. Sounds like a terrible football match all round. I hate seeing unfairness like this. They are just children, I don’t see why it necessary to behave like this and teach the children bad ways too. Well done to your team for keeping their cool. #CountryKids

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  11. I’ve experienced more than my fair share of this: 2 sons, 8 years on the touchline. I think the only way individual clubs can address this is to boycott games against this sort of opposition. That should force the leagues to take action. Would your husband consider doing that?

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    • We’ve never thought about that (well, I haven’t!), but he probably would. He wants the boys to do their best, but he’s not ultra-competitive and is all about winning fairly, not at all costs. It would be good if the league could provide a ref for every game too, but that seems to be a big ask as there just isn’t enough to go around.

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  12. Argh this makes me so cross and, sorry to day as I’m sure this is a minority case, but a reason we supported my boy playing rugby over football. Our coaches are constantly drilling the kids with discipline, sportsmanship, teamwork and the like. I know rugby isn’t perfect and I’m sad for your hubby as one of the good guys x x

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