Is any of this getting through? Post-match analysis with my 12-year old

He’s a beautiful boy, my Charlie. The baby of three at his mum’s. Caught in the middle of five at mine. Gorgeous with his younger siblings: gentle, caring and funny. He plays for the Payneham Norwood Union Falcons under 12’s, on the half-back flank. Norwood legend Macca is the club A-grade coach. They’re in div 2 of the ammos. He’s had a bar at the Adelaide oval named after him. I loved the way Macca played. Tough as. Loved a scrap. Char’s with his mum this weekend so our post-match analysis is conducted by SMS. As usual I do most of the talking. I’m not a pushy dad. Not at all. But I confess there are times when I find it hard to be positive. Generally I’m pretty good. Especially after I’ve meditated. This week’s SMS trail:


Dad: “Hi Char where are you playing Sunday?”
Char: “Tea tree gully”
Dad: “Oh…: ( [It’s a fair hike]”
Char: “You don’t have to come”

[Really? Haha now I have no choice]

Post-match [The Falcons have a big win. I arrive a little way into the 2nd. Charlie gets some classy touches that quarter. He then suffers his predictable fade-out. An entire quarter. Not a touch in the 3rd. Meanwhile his direct opponent kicks Gullies’ only goal for the match. The 4th is better, and includes a beautiful gather on the wing, side step and lace-out pass to a well-spotted team-mate loose at half-forward. Sublime.]:

Dad: “Charles, skills are 1st class & ball use very sweet. If you could get more of the pill you would be a match-winner every week. Now, how to achieve this….? (I have the answer, but what do you think?)”

Char: “Not sure dad haha…Maybe get to the stoppages and get the ball??…I’m really not sure”

Dad: “Correct. Be where the ball is – or is going to be – as often as possible. The more opportunities you have to get the ball the more often you will get it and the more opportunities you will have to use your skills & delivery. This requires relentless intelligent running. Fitness & smarts are key.”

Dad: “When you run out after 3/4 time & find you don’t have an opponent because they’ve got two loose in defence then take that opportunity to get creative: run to the contest or to space to create a loose option instead of hanging back on your flank waiting to be picked up. Create the play. Kick a goal. Impose yourself on the contest. Force someone to pick you up. Did you see any of Gablett’s game today? He is the best in the comp. 3 goals in the last 1/4 when the game in the balance. Inspirational.”

[Then this encouragement from my eldest, Eddie, aged 19, who in round 2 provided his old dad with undoubtedly one of his proudest moments when he played his maiden A grade game for the Adelaide Uni Blacks in div 1: “He read out the text you sent him – perfectly summed up I reckon! And Ablett is unreal”. That’s all I need]:

Dad: “So at that 1st bounce of the last 1/4 you’re the guy screaming through the middle receiving the long handball or short kick out of the ruck contest (which you know you will win as your rucks are dominant). You dodge and weave past a couple then deliver. You keep running and receive about 40 from goal. You dodge another couple & have a bounce. Their 2 loose defenders are left flat-footed, hands on hips, watching helplessly as you slam it through. You take the admiring pats on the back from your team-mates together with the sideline applause as you jog back to the defensive side of the square. You take a deep breath. And then you do the same thing all over again. : )”

I’m awaiting a response. Is any of getting through? Does he really believe you can pick up fitness playing FIFA World Cup for hours at a time?


  1. Love the family passion Daddsy.
    Well played those men.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great passion Daddsy as you no from past experience with Eddie in general kids will listen to others before listening to there own parents hopefully , Charlie is well coached by other people keep encouraging and teaching mate . I am sure some of your knowledge has been taken in by , Eddie in the long run and will be by , Charlie

  3. Thanks Peter, Malcolm. By way of PostScript, it would appear that Charlie’s phone was confiscated by his mother before he could respond further on Sunday, and has not yet been returned! Clearly she has no appreciation for the vital importance of this business ; )

  4. I understand your concern, Daddsy. But I would suggest it’s best that young Charlie is only playing the computer game version of soccer, as opposed to the real-life ‘world game’… otherwise, despite (possibly) being fitter, he may turn out to be the antithesis of McIntosh.

  5. Nice work Daddsy – if only I could find the same passion watching 4 games of netball every weekend.

  6. Great write up. Making my debut at Auskick last night with a 5 yr old hopefully I have all this to come. Finding it hard to discipline other peoples kids and get mine to concentrate for an hr. Kids coaches have their work cut out.

  7. Tom Martin says

    Great piece Daddsy. It was like reading of a grand final contest with your paternal pride and old footballer’s instincts on one team, and meditative tranquility and fatherly forbearance on the other. One team plays with passion and always posts high scores, but can leak goals. The other is disciplined and patient, defensive, waiting for the moment to turn the game to its advantage. Geelong of 1989 vs St Kilda of 2009. I’m glad to hear the Cats win that contest more often that not! A much more interesting spectacle.

    Tweenage ambivalence notwithstanding, I’m sure Charlie is absorbing your footy smarts, Daddsy – just not the full dose. You’re making all the right noises, but he’s only listening to some of them. The question remaining is, what parts of the pith and wisdom are actually getting through? With an adolescent’s selective hearing, I suspect Charlie is registering the bit that says ‘run forward seeking glory and kick goals’, and not the bit that says ‘whenever you find yourself without a direct opponent’. Which is quite brilliant really – may his young-blooded exuberance be given full expression. Anyone can be taught the defensive stuff later on, it’s the instinct to be bold and take on the game that is best inculcated early.

    Stoked to hear about Eddie’s debut. Did you present his shoelaces? I would have loved to play a game or two with him. Or you for that matter! In 19 years at the club I missed you both, which is about right I suppose.

  8. Thanks all for comments. Yes Tom M, the timing was sadly miraculous wasn’t it? And yes I was honoured to present half a dozen pairs of bootlaces in round 2 at the Comedy Colosseum. I took JP’s advice and left Ed’s until last, for obvious reasons. An update on Charlie: I had to leave today’s Payneham game early. I was there for over 2 quarters. Charlie’s stats for that period: 0 kicks, 0 handballs, 0 tackles, 0 shepherds, 0 touches. He was on the field the entire time. Eddie sent two consecutive texts shortly after I left: “Payneham just had the best passage of play I’ve ever seen from a junior footy team”. Followed by, “Charlie was not involved.” Yesterday I was driving through town with my two daughters. We saw a Cinderella-type coach being pulled by two white horses, obviously on its way to a wedding. I asked Gigi (16) if this was how she wanted to get married. She replied without hesitation, dead-pan: “I’d rather die”. Being a parent brings great joy. Cheers & Respect.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Daddsy. Enjoy the journey. Mine is just starting with my oldest boy (6) starting Ausick 2 weeks ago.
    Now you’ve made your own start, look forward to reading more of your work on the Almanac site.

  10. Rick Neagle says

    Daddsy, perhaps a half time beer at Maccas Bar Thursday night? G Abblett C Dadds; has a familiar ring to it.

  11. Nice work, Daddsy. Ah, parenthood and footy. Lots to love. How good to be coached by Macca! Apart from his footy deeds, I remember seeing him at the Colonist on a freezing July evening, perched at the bar, solo, wearing footy shorts, and enjoying a quiet cigar. So much to be learnt from this man.

    I look forward to reading more about your boys’ footy careers.

  12. Eddie Dadds says

    Love your work dad. Tried to speak to Charlie after his match today (after he didn’t register a stat for 2 and a half quarters and looked completely disinterested). As soon as I started talking about his performance (with the intention of offering some advice) he bluntly reminded me that, to paraphrase, I’d probably been lucky to get 5 touches in my game on Saturday and that he didn’t consider my opinion valid. Fair point.

  13. Cheers Luke & Mickey; appreciate your comments. Macca’s a little bit like Bob Neil I reckon – sightings are naturally imbued with a mystique, and we’ve all got at least one to share. Neags I surrendered my ticket tonight to a prospective Blacks’ recruit, Eddie’s mate Nick. Blind devotion? Glorious sacrifice? Unmitigated altruism? None of the above. As Gigi put it so powerfully and succinctly, “I’d rather die” than watch Crows v Pies. Another time, though, I’d love to join you for a beer or two at Macca’s bar. Surely your beers are free? And Ed, you’ve taken a pivotal role in educating your brother in familial street-smarts and accordingly have only yourself to blame. The time may have come for us all to consider piano lessons.

  14. Dan Hansen says

    Daddsy, I always knew you’d be a good footy Dad. Good read.

  15. Words of wisdom Daddsy. Take your I pad next time and show him the footage. If he’s still not interested in your feedback at least he can play FIFA world cup.

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