Day 2 into my last Bangkok trip with my club has just ended. Today has been rough to say the least. I've had three injured players on my hands, dealing with all sorts of drama stretching from wakeup call to breakfast to the actual games themselves. Just when I thought my day couldn't get any busier and more tiring, one small event turned the day completely on its head and reminds me that being a coach is much more than just coaching soccer.
By the end of the day we gave our kids two choices between shopping at a mega mall in Bangkok or staying behind with me to watch a movie and order pizza. One kid who was badly injured during the gameday was forced to stay behind, and two kids followed suit. Just as we were about to go up to my room, one of them tarted sobbing. I pulled him to a private space and asked what was wrong, to which he answered that he wanted to get his mom a gift but could not because he hurt his heel during the day and was advised by his coach to stay behind and rest. The words that came out of his mouth and the tears that followed just took my heart away. I promised him I would help him find a gift for his mother. Just how in the world do you find kids which such a purely loving and kind heart these days?
What happened between me and that kid today reminded me of why I chose this job. There is so much than just soccer coaching. You are literally making a difference in these kids' lives, and just to see a pure and innocent, loving side of the kids that we adults ourselves lost on our way growing up is such an invaluable experience. It reminds us of what really matters in our lives and that at times we need to take a step back and realize there is more to youth coaching than just teaching the sports itself.
That will undoubtedly be one of the most treasured memories I will carry throughout my career.
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.