It’s getting to that point now where SK feels real. It’s not something that’s just happened, but gradually, little things added together make us feel like we’re here, and not only to make up the numbers – we’re here to make a difference. So when we say ‘football coaching with a difference’, what do we mean? Is it that we’re better? You couldn’t possibly say. Is it that we coach in a different way to everyone else? Probably not. It’s something much more complex. It’s a culture that we want to create, or change, in grassroots football.
I stumbled across an article this morning which had the interesting balance of irritating me yet making me nod all at once – read it here. It makes some very valid points, yet I can’t help but be annoyed by it. But what it eventually told me, was this is what SKFC are for; we’re here to change this.
Cash cow football ‘academies’, as the article aptly names them, are popping up just about everywhere and at frightening pace. SK will have academy (although not a cash cow…). But the big problem is who fronts these academies and why they exist. The clue is in the phrase, there’s a massive problem with people who see young children’s football as chance to line their pockets without doing anything to merit it. Often, ‘links to pro clubs’ is the phrase used to take obscene amounts of money from parents who just want to do their best for their sons. I even hear of some players who don’t get a chance to go to a pro club – that are ready to – because it means that the private organisation they are playing with won’t be making money from them any longer!
The stats the article uses are misleading, but the chances of being a multi-million pound footballer in the future are very slim. But is football really all about that? Is the whole purpose of development football for pro clubs and pro clubs only? Surely not. We want to give our players the best shot at getting into an academy, of course. We’re also sure that, with the brilliant talent at SKFC, there will be many players who do. However, the SKFC Academy and Development Centre is much more than that. It’s about the development of the person and the player, that person’s enjoyment of the game, making tons of new friends, but also enjoying different experiences. When OUR Academy launches, it truly will be ‘football coaching with a difference’.
With so many of these cash cows appearing in our community, we want to be the catalyst for change. A football development centre and/or academy should be an ally to a grassroots club, not an opponent. Why shouldn’t the two organisations support one another?! Then there’s money. We want to challenge the cash-cow culture. If parents invest in us, it’s our duty to invest in the players. We want to challenge ‘the dream’, the obsession with professional clubs. There’s so much more to football than that, it’s just one possible outcome for a player!
So when the article says “We MUST change the way football academies recruit and release players and we certainly need to coach and man-manage children better if we’re ever going to develop young footballers in this country” then yes, let’s do that!
Here’s hoping that SKFC can be a catalyst to change football for the better in our area and that other, bigger organisations will follow suit and give children’s football back to its rightful owner – the players.