Saturday, September 07, 2013

South Hobart 16 d Friends School 1, Div 4 U/11 soccer

The school soccer season has come and gone. This year I split the coaching job with Mohamed, the big brother of one of the players. I paid him a visit last summer and said I would only coach them this year if he would take training, and I am very grateful that he said yes. I have had the bright and switched-on Saturday morning kids at games, while poor Mo has had the tired and cranky after-school kids at training.

For the first half of the season we were in Div 3. After an early flogging we improved rapidly, and picked up a couple of narrow wins and one big one by the end of term. Our stronger players were knitting together a little better, and our lesser lights were getting the hang of playing a position and improving their skills. After our initial bad loss our goals for/against were equal.

I was a bit dismayed that were then re-graded into Div 4. This term we haven't lost a game, handing out some thrashings culminating in today's 16-1 blowout. I would have preferred to stay in Div 3, and continue winning some and losing some, with the kids learning to fight back when they are down, and to hold on in close games.

The big benefit of being in the lower division was that it made it easier to teach the kids to use their skills, pass and work together, in a less pressured environment. Its natural in tight situations for the better players to form a clique and be reluctant to trust the others. And they had fun - it was a happy team, and winning every week must have been a big factor in that.

One of the four girls in the team scored her first goal today. I said to the group that I wanted them just to play this last game normally, but if we were way ahead with 10 minutes to go, they could start trying to tee up goals for people who hadn't scored. Jess usually plays in defence and is a wonderfully calm character. She doesn't have eye-catching skill, but she controls the ball, sizes up her options, and passes accurately (with her toe) nearly every time. Today she had a run up front in the 2nd half. She picked up a lovely square pass from Tully, controlled it, sized up her options and just passed it accurately (with her toe) into the corner of the goals. The best goal by far of the many.

We had a barbecue after and I got to hand out the trophies and say a few words. The school presentation day is next Saturday (for some reason, as this was the last game). We will be away cheering Marcus on at another regional soccer tournament in Burnie, so we did our celebration today.

I got a lot of appreciation for my coaching from kids and parents (and a hug from one of the boys), but everyone has really been lovely all through the season. I will need to wait and see where and when Marcus is playing next year before I can commit to coaching a primary school team again, but it was really nice that a few parents said they hoped I would still be around.

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