The title of this blog might have made readers go, "huh?" and I don't blame them! I've talked about how I became a football coach but not really about why. It is a deeply personal story to me and I haven't really discussed it in details other than with a couple of friends. To put it simply, part of the reason why I became a football coach is because I am compensating for a lost part of my childhood: I grew up not playing sports, didn't have a dad to take me to sports and never had a role model like a coach to look up to.
I grew up with my mum and grandparents. When I was 6, my father went on his own path. Mum was working 9 to 6, while my grandparents had their hands full taking care of me full time (I was a needy kid!) and were of old ages already. My small family did their absolute brilliant best to bring me up and make me the person I am today, but there was a major part that I didn't realize was always missing. I had no male role model who I could share stories with, seek advice from or just in general talk to and have some fun with. My grandpa was the best grandpa anyone could ask for, but in that capacity I just couldn't interact with him in the ways my players do with me. So when I started out coaching, I realised that this was my chance to compensate for that missing part of my childhood by being in the other shoes! I try my hardest to portray myself as a role model, but at the same time personal and approachable to my players. Every kid who has confided their trust in me, talked to me about things outside of football and shared stories with me made me feel extremely proud. I know that they know they have someone who they can trust and that someone has their best interest in mind.
Recently I spent a couple days with a few boys I used to coach for six months all the way back in Vietnam. The way the boys interacted with me over those few days was the best reward I could have asked for in return for the way I have approached coaching. They treated me like their big brother, played games with me and I went with one to a half-day sports tournament. I felt so proud that in six short months I was able to make such a positive impression on them, and I take tremendous pride in being a part of them growing up and playing sports, something that no one did for me when I was a boy.
Having not had a male figure and role mode or coach throughout my boyhood, I believe this is by far the most important part of my job, to be that person young players can look up to, confide trust in and interact with in an interpersonal way on and off the pitch. And I wouldn't trade my job for the world.
About the Author
Bao "Terry" Cao is currently a coach at Manchester United Foundation and the FA Development Centre for girls. Terry is licensed by both the FA and USSF. He shares his personal experience of being involved in youth soccer as both a coach and an outside viewer.