AN OPEN LETTER FROM A VOLUNTEER COACH
19th June 2019
AN OPEN LETTER FROM A VOLUNTEER COACH
Recently at training, I heard a comment made about me behind my back. I started to turn around and look, but then decided better of it and kept my eyes on the field. My wife hears things like this more often than I do, because many of you don’t know who she is. She tells me what you say. I have received... angry emails, full of “suggestions,” about who should be playing where and what team they should be playing with...and this was to assess players for an A and B team squads. If this system wasn’t put in place, the kids would most definitely suffer by not getting game time and that is exactly what we as a club want to achieve by giving all our kids equal opportunities to play and at a realistic level so that they are not disenfranchised in any way.
I thought I’d write an open letter to all of you parents, even though I might never send it. I’ll start it this way: “I am a volunteer.” I’m the one who answered the call when the club said they didn’t have enough coaches or managers. I understand that you were too busy. I have some news for you. I’m not retired. I’m busy too. I have other children and a job, just like you do. Not only do I not get paid to do this – it costs me money. I see you walk up to the game 15 minutes after it started, still dressed for work. Do you know I’ve already been here over an hour? Imagine if you had to leave work early nearly every day. I’ve never seen you at a training session. I’m sure you’re plugging away at the office or a factory or even a retailer. But I’m out here, on the field, trying my best to teach these children how to play a sport they love, while my bank account suffers.
I know. I make mistakes. In fact, maybe I’m not even that great of a coach. But I treat the kids fairly and with respect. I am pretty sure they like coming to my trainings and games, and without me or someone like me, there’d be no team for them to play on. I’m part of this community too and it’s no picnic being out here on this stage like this. It’s a lot easier back there with the other parents where no one is second-guessing you. And I also know you think I give my son or daughter unfair advantages. I try not to. In fact, have you ever considered that maybe I’m harder on him or her than on the others? I’m sure he or she hears plenty of criticism at school from classmates, who hear it from you at home, about what a poor manager I am. And if, even unconsciously, my kids are getting a slight advantage because I know them better and trust their abilities, is that the worst thing in the world, considering the sacrifice I’m making? Trust me, I want to win too. I like to think I treat everyone equally, yes even the weaker players get a chance, after all, in my eyes, it’s all about inclusion
After this game is over, I’ll be the last one to leave. I have to clear the pitch, put away all the equipment and make sure everyone has had a parent arrive to pick them up. There have been evenings when my son and I waited with a player until after dark before someone came to get them. Many nights I’m sure you’ve already had dinner and are relaxing on the couch by the time I finally kick the mud off my shoes and climb into my car, which hasn’t been washed or vacuumed for weeks. Why bother cleaning it during the season?
Do you know how nice it would be if, just once, after a game one of you offered to carry the heavy gear bag to my car or help collect the balls, bibs or bottles?
If I sound angry, I’m not. I do this because I love it and I love being around the kids. There are plenty of rewards and I remind myself that while you’re at the office working, your kid is saying something that makes us all laugh or brings a tear to my eye. The positives outweigh the negatives. I just wish sometime those who don’t choose to volunteer their time would leave the coaching to the few of us who do.
My love of football and helping children within our community will always be priority over the hassle and grief that is part of our player development programme and the one thing I ask for and on behalf of every coach and volunteer with our children within our club is respect for the job we do because at the end of the day, if there were no volunteers, there would be no football club serving the children in this area and everyone needs to be thankful of our role in the local community.
Thanking you for your time in reading this letter. Yours in Sport A Volunteer Coach