Having been knocked out of the County Cup twice in the last week with both my U9 and U10 teams I have started to feel overwhelmed and somewhat bored of the game. I often found myself frustrated at my inability to address a technical problem with the team, whether it was because of their inability to comprehend my ideas or their lack of attentiveness. One moment though reminded me of the fact that how successful I am as a coach does not depend on whether or not I can create invincible teams or star players, but rather on the positive differences I’ve made on just a few players and how they will remember me for it.
Last week my U10 team and I were on the receiving end of a rout, in which my goalkeeper was very beat up about. After conceding a couple of early goals he was completely void of confidence and blamed himself for the goals that we conceded. I was having none of it and assured him the goals were not his fault. I kept telling him that he was a great goalkeeper and all he needed was a little self-belief, and told him he could keep my goalkeeping gloves to practice with because I had full trust in his ability to be a great keeper. A couple of days later he pulled two amazing saves in an invitational tournament. After the game I came up to him, praised him for the great play and credited his self-confidence as the main factor behind how he managed to make those saves. He said “thank you so much for believing in me” and out of nowhere gave me a big hug. His affection caught me by surprise, but it was a blessed reminder that my primary goal in this job is to instill beliefs and make differences in these kids, and not necessarily to create amazing teams that win everything.
Perhaps now that I don’t have to worry about any competitive matches I can finally calm down and focus on helping more kids find their inner confidence, enjoyment of the game and see where these achievements will take them (and me!).
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.