You played really well tonight, little bro.’
I was driving sons no.1 and 2 back from the latter’s development centre training session. No.1 son and I had kicked a ball around together, then settled down to watch the younger boys’ football and to chat. No.1 son talked about his younger brother’s style of play, how it contrasted with his own and what sort of player he might become (like Kolo Touré). While we watched, we both noted the frequency with which the coach shouted praise at no.2 son.
In the car, the boys’ conversation continued:
“Did you do what I told you to do?”
“Did you do exactly what the coach told you to do?”
“The coaches like that and that helps you get picked,” no.1 son explained.
There’s talk, which I’m not encouraging, that no.2 son could be moved from the development centre to the academy. This must have been their agenda.
“So why don’t all kids do that – do what the coach tells them to?” I enquired of no.1 son.
“We’ll, they do during drills, but when they are in a match after they’ve been practising passing, they might prefer to dribble the ball, even though that’s not what the coach has been working on with them. But if you remember to do what the coach has told you to do he will praise you, you get more confident, you became better and he’s happy that his coaching is working. Everyone’s a winner.”
Now, we know that not everyone will be a winner. But I think I know someone who will be.