What is The Parents Role in helping an academy player make it as a professional footballer, our secret academy player gives us his views.
Enough cannot be said about the support needed by a youth player at home from their mom and dad or a single parent to the entire family.
Even the most independent and goal getting youth or current succesful player that came from a youth rank or was a prodigy would tell you that without family support.
I remember being ten, I’m a striker for a club at an important tournament where the stake was high and the expectation was higher.
Even at a young age, expectation is high when you set a bar or a standard and are looked upon as a great player.
Coaches have high expectations, teammates have high expectations and parents of the other children on the team even though it’s an 11 v 11 game expect you to be the difference.
Challenges like that I definitely relish, always the boy for the big stage and love taking down Goliath every saturday. I have never shied away or been intimidated by the level of expectation because whatever expectation other have of me, I place a higher expectation on myself. I BELIEVE IN MYSELF.
At this particular tournament which I think was the turning point for my parents and I scored goals, we lost but I missed a couple of opportunities that could have won us the game.
The looks from teammates were brutal, the parents, even more brutal. When I got in the car, my parents didn’t mention the good, they said how could I have missed those glaring chances.
When we got home that day, we watched an EPL game with one of my idols Didier Drogba who missed and I saw my parents look at each other and had an epiphany because fact is that the looks from teammates and their parents and coaches wasn’t an issue or bothered me at all.
I learnt at eight to build a huge insulating wall against destructive criticisms, i only hear constructive ones.
What downed me wasnt my parents but my own expectations yes I knew I was better than I played, I knew I had a bad game, scored two goals and missed four.
What my parents told me that evening stuck with me….. my parents said “son, pay us no mind you did great…pay your teammates and parents no mind their opinions mean nothing there are 11 on the pitch, their kids are also culpable in the losses if we are in the blame passing game”.
What I will credit my parents for is that they realised that you can’t be on every game, every day…… that I will have many bad days at the office and since then, good days bad days are alway learning experiences, not criticism.
Players have bad days, youth players do, coaches do, teams do and even the pros do. Has Messi ever missed a clear cut chance? YES! Has Ronaldo ever missed a clearcut chance? YES! Has de Gea or Neuer ever miss timed a ball that ended up at the back of the net? YES.
Name whoever you consider the best player and you will find that chances are they have had many bad days, key is when they have brilliant days we recognise their brilliance.
I don’t know who said it but there’s a quote about not getting carried away by the highs and not letting bogged down by the lows.
Advice to parents, support your kids. When they have bad days, let the car ride home be about the positives things they did and maybe a day later say, hey lets work on this, I noticed that you might be in this situation in a game, let’s work on that so when you see that opportunity, you’ll be ready via muscle memory.
With me because I was used to criticism and know to ignore it, it didn’t bother me just the pressure I put on myself but I know other good players that have quit playing football because they couldn’t deal with the lows and their parents weren’t supportive during the lows.
I actually know a few players at my academy right now whose parents give them that look of disappoint rather than that look of you’ll get the next one, keep going tiger, those kids I fear will play with fear, wont take chances because of fear of failure. They wont attempt to geth back the hill because they don’t want to look foolish if they don’t pull it off.
That I believe is the greatest crime because creativity will be lost, that audacity of did he just try that or pull that off will be lost….parents you can make all the difference, ask Neymar where he’d be with out the support of his dad or Messi or other top players. Youth players especially – if they are to reach their potential, they need the support of their parents, need the whole family to wrap them and embrace when they have bad days.