Just over a year ago I was asked to help out with a junior girls soccer team as an assistant coach. Since I stopped playing the world game I had thought about moving into a coaching role. I always thought it would be with a boys team. However as my girls developed an interest in the game and I knew the head coach I thought it was time to dip my toes and see if I was cut out for coaching. After a few games the head coach resigned and I was thrown in as head coach. To say I was thrown into the deep end was an understatement. Here I was an inexperienced coach, coaching kids who for the majority of them had never kicked a ball in their life. Fast forward to now where I have committed for a second season, the girls started to win some games and I have now completed FFA approved coaches courses to increase my knowledge of the game.
Being part of the sporting grassroots community you notice things you would not know about after watching elite sports for the past decade. The big issue is lack of sporting grounds and facilities not just for soccer, but pretty much all sports in this country. The club I coach has only been in existence for a couple of years, but has grown to have 450 players on their books and a waiting list of over 300 players. The club, however, does not have a home ground and plays and trains at various venues around the local area. Due to this most of the teams can only train once per week and when daylight savings finishes can only train for just over an hour. This can harm development and the chance for real bonding time with their team mates. Talking to other coaches at the coaches forums I have attended they have expressed the same frustration I have in not being able to have a suitable ground to train on. Even clubs with a home ground are restricted by their local council when they can use the ground.
Chatting to friends who coach in other sports are facing the same issue. The big problem is lack of space and a growing population. Governments (Federal, State and Local) are trying to strike a balance in selling land off for development or giving land to sporing clubs/organisations for much needed facilities. In a time where we are told our kids are getting fat and need to get off the couch. Where is the incentive if there are not enough sporting fields our kids can play at. Sport is a great tool that teaches kids the importance of learning new skills, teamwork and getting used to a pressured environment. Isn’t this a better investment than selling off land to a developer for a quick buck?