The football team: The end of the line

My son’s football team is no more. It’s been on the cards for some time now, but it’s still sad that it’s all over.

My son joined the team when he was just 7. Very quickly, my husband began to help out with the coaching. As the team moved into under 8s, my husband took over as coach and manager.

And he’s remained in that position ever since.

The team started playing league football at under 9s, so my husband has been in charge for four whole league seasons.

It’s not been the most stable of teams. Only one player has been there longer than my son (and he only played about half of the matches this season). A lot of players have come and gone in that time. The coaching team which was once four had dwindled down to two on a good day, but mainly just one this season – my husband. My eldest stepped up to fill the gap and helped out with setting up the nets and linesman duties towards the end of the season.

While other teams have crowds of supporters, ours just had a few. A hardcore of parents never, ever watched their sons play football. Why? Why wouldn’t you watch them play?

And players kept failing to turn up. Rugby was a big problem – tournaments that ran into the afternoon would wipe out half of the team. Kids went on holiday, of course. Kids were ill, of course. It happens.

But families were prioritising pretty much everything over football – weekends away, days out, sleepovers… It’s OK for one player to do it, but when four of them are doing it every single week, the team becomes unsustainable. In the final weeks of the season, players were just failing to turn up without letting us know.

Managing the team was becoming an increasingly thankless task. No support from parents. No commitment from players.

What had once been fun was becoming a chore.

After five seasons in charge, my husband had understandably had enough.

So he offered the opportunity to anyone else who would like to manage the team. The manager doesn’t even have to be the coach. It is largely an administrative role, albeit a tiring and thankless one. It could have been done by a mum just as easily as a dad.

The role is a voluntary one and involves liaising with parents, referees, the league and the managers of other teams. There are occasional club meetings to attend, plus player registration, collecting subs and online reporting of results and statistics to the FA website. It’s quite a commitment.

The response to the email, as predicted, was deafening silence. Nobody cared enough about their son’s football to take on some responsibility.

What made me particularly sad was that nobody even emailed back to thank my husband for his hard work and commitment to the team, and to their sons, for five whole years.

So the team is no more.

I’m pleased to say they won their final game 4-2, with my son scoring the first goal. It was disappointing that his incredible bicycle kick goal on the final whistle was disallowed, as it really was the best goal ever. What a finish to the season and the team that would have been. But a win was good enough.

So the kids will all go their separate ways. They will go to different teams and some will give up football altogether. My son has already made arrangements to play at a local team with one of his school friends. They’re very happy to have a player who has scored 26 goals this season, the fifth highest scorer in the league. Most importantly for us, we know the team has a nice coach. When you’ve spent the last four years watching kids’  league football, you come to realise not every team has a nice coach. To us, that’s way more important than league position.

So it’s the end of an era. I feel a bit sad about it and slightly angry that other parents didn’t care enough to keep it going. I am proud of my husband for his commitment and of my son for the way his football skills have developed over the years.

My husband, understandably, just feels relieved.

Football, Son, 365


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Having been on the sideline many times over the years myself, I find the parent’s attitudes and behaviour (and that is a whole other post) shocking at times. SO may don’t respect the coaches and constantly give them a hard time when they give up so much of their time and it is disgusting. We have always tried to support our coaches and thank them regularly for what they do. It is so sad that it has ended like that and like you say, very sad that they couldn’t even thank your husband for all of his efforts.

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    • Thanks very much! Our parents weren’t directly rude like some I’ve seen, they were just indifferent. They seemed to accept they were getting two hours of free childcare on a Sunday and didn’t think about the effort that went into everything. A few of them said thank you to my husband’s face on the last day and one even gave him a bottle of wine, but they should all have thanked him! In fact, they should all have thanked him every week, but they didn’t 🙁

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  2. My husband is a coach too to my little boys team. I can understand why you are upset – I too do not understand why you wouldn’t watch your own child play? Hopefully your son will find another nice team to play for and not give up on the sport that he loves.

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    • Thanks very much! He’s found another team and is actually playing in a tournament with them this weekend! It feels very strange that my husband doesn’t have all the information and that the organisation is in someone else’s hands!

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  3. Oh, what a shame! Well I think your husband and your son have both done an amazing job. I hope all goes well with the new team.

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    • Thanks very much! They really have committed to it for so long. He plays with the new team for the first time this weekend. It will feel strange, but we’re looking forward to it! x

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  4. If my husband read this, I think he might be in the same boat, but then it’s a whole club not just a team. It’s so difficult and I think you’ve all made the right decision for your family. Well done to your son and your husband and glad they won. Onwards and upwards xx

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    • Thanks very much! I think your husband is amazing to keep a whole club together! it’s hard enough just with the one team. It’s a weird feeling knowing we’re not in charge of the football any more, but hopefully it will be good for us all. x

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  5. Sarah, I’m shocked that other parents were so unappreciative of all your husband’s efforts to run the team, all in his own time and for free! I agree with what you say about them being lucky to have had a nice coach – at rugby tournaments we see some really mean coaches giving their really young players a hard time, and I am so grateful that our kids have really positive, supportive coaches. I don’t understand why you would never watch your kid play, even if just one of you went every couple of weeks! Sorry to hear it’s all over, hope your son continues to enjoy the beautiful game.

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    • Thanks very much! I’m sure he will still enjoy it. I don’t understand at all why people wouldn’t want to watch their child play. I watch about 80% of my son’s matches, despite the fact that he already has a parent there! I don’t think half the parents even realised my husband was giving his time for free!

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  6. Oh what a shame that the football team came to an end and I’m so stunned that no-one even thanked your husband for all the hard work and effort he put into it. I’m not surprised he’s had enough though – it all sounds very stressful with the lack of commitment from other parents. Glad to hear that your son’s joined another football team though and hope he enjoys playing with his new team. #LoudnProud

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    • Thanks very much! I’m sure he will enjoy his new team. It seems like the most normal thing in the world to thank someone for their efforts, yet nobody actually emailed to say thanks. I’m pleased at least some of them said thanks to his face on the last day of the season and one of the parents actually gave him a bottle of wine.

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  7. Ah what a shame after all the effort put in but i can some of this happening in the team my hubby plays with and its so frustrating especially when people just don’t turn up. It baffles me when parents can’t be bothered watching their kids play. It’s always the same ones too, almost palming them off for a bit. Hope he has a brilliant time in the new team x

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    • Thanks very much! He’s playing in a tournament with them tomorrow. I really don’t get why people wouldn’t want to watch their kids play, but I’m sure some of them view it as cheap babysitting 🙁 Hope this doesn’t happen to your hubby’s team. It’s so disheartening! x

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  8. Ah that’s such a shame but I can imagine your husband is happy for a rest! I didn’t dream so much work would go into running a football team! x

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    • Thanks very much. We haven’t quite got our heads round the fact that he doesn’t need to do it any more (and we can move all of that football equipment out of the garage!). I don’t think anyone has any idea how much work goes into it, least of all the parents, until they received that email asking them to step up! x

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  9. I loved my involvement with my son’s football teams over the years, sadly his last season was played out with a different team, due to internal team issues but i carried on helping to run the club of 12 teams, when my son left, i did also, his new team won the league that year, something his old team had dominated along with the cup for the previous 6 seasons, so just goes to show how valuable my son was a goal keeper, despite getting dropped in favour of an academy goal keeper. The club folded the following year, a lot of people were disheartened with the way certain managers were only interested in winning titles and not offering fair play to all. I’m still in touch with most of the parents, despite our kids going separate ways

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    • It’s great that you stayed involved in the club for so long, but it sounds like a lot of people were very committed. Our team was all about apathy, unfortunately. I won’t be staying in touch with any parents, apart from the ones that were my friends anyway, as most of them didn’t bother turning up to games! 🙁

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  10. I completely understand this – my husband took on coaching our eldest son’s football team back many moons ago, the “B” team that nobody wanted to coach because they had their star players for the “A” team and weren’t bothered about the other kids that wanted to play, and he & the other coach have brought them up to U15s, taking the team to represent a whole new club, celebrating promotion this season and now within touching distance of the league win pending the results of their last two games. Considering nobody wanted the “B” team it’s amazing how often our players get approached by other clubs, but the boys have stayed loyal since they were young.

    Considering what it was a few years ago, it has been a slog at times and like you say a thankless task (I admin our U10s rugby team, I get the deafening silence from emails too!) and your husband has done an amazing job to carry it on and be there for those kids, well done him, and best of luck to your son with his new team. Thanks for sharing with #LoudnProud

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    • Thanks very much! It really is hard work and it sounds like your husband has done brilliantly to bring the team on that far – and to hang on to the players! I think the turnover at our team was a bit too high, so there wasn’t quite the team spirit there should have been.

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