Got a budding Harry Kane in the house? Before you sign up to a football club, read my top tips for choosing the right football club for your boy.
Understand the geography…
I naively approached my youngest’s first season by just choosing our local club assuming that if the club grounds were round the corner from our house, then that’s where training and matches would be.. and then spent Friday nights travelling the other side of town in rush-hour traffic for training.
Often, Winter training will be on astro-pitches (they’ll need flood lights too for darker evenings) whilst Summer training will be grass-based – and even this may not be held at the club grounds as some give priority to cricket matches, so check in advance.
Check which teams will play in your son’s league so you can work out how far you may have to travel to a match at the weekend. There can be some strange anomalies, meaning you are often heading off for an away match over an hour from home. It may be unavoidable but it’s worth knowing in advance – especially if you have more than one child to taxi around.
Choosing a football club is a big commitment as it can be a big part of family life for years to come. So it’s ok to try out a club’s training session first- get a feel for how the kids are coached, supervised and disciplined. Clubs rely on volunteers to be coaches and they do an amazing job but remember it’s quite a challenge to keep a pack of Under 8’s busy for an hour so look out for teams who ideally have at least 2 coaches per squad.
Clubs are a great place for parents to make life-long friends too so ask what kind of social events they run, if there’s a club bar etc – this fosters a real sense of community amongst footballing families and a great place to meet up for BBQ’s, presentation days etc.
It’s worth knowing how many squads there’ll be in any one year group and if the club will assess the kids’ abilities and move them around to maximise their development. Some clubs shy away from this, especially at a young age as they may not want kids to feel like they are at risk of relegation or promotion.
It does give you more options as your son develops his football skills as there are different ability teams that he can strive to get to. If there’s only 1 squad, you may find your son outgrows the club and you’ll need to move him on to a different one.
Your Club needs YOU!
As said, the lifeblood of football clubs up and down the country is volunteers – coaches, assistant managers and administrators – even linesmen (or women of course). Be prepared to do your bit – it’s great fun and you really are making a difference!
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