By Gemma Bell
I have had a busy few months after making a decision to take up a couple of roles at a new club. I chose this club based on their love and drive for female participation in all aspects of the game. Hykeham Town FC not only cater for boys but also girls from all walks of life. The club is only four years old but the people driving the club show no sign of stopping and its growth is fast-paced. This year was Hykeham Town Ladies FC’s debut season whom, at the time of writing, sit top of their table: East Midlands Women’s Regional League Division 1 North.
It has provided me with more opportunities to engage with The FA and their England DNA; the DNA is England’s coaching and playing philosophy. Engaging with it is eye-opening. In particular, I have loved my conversations with Pete Sturgess, The FA’s Lead for 5-11-year-olds, which is also known as The Foundation Phase. His inspirational messages ring true to my own coaching philosophy where I would rather coach in a way that develops my players than to win-at-all-costs. When I coach my players, I don’t place an emphasis on what the score line is going to be at the end of the game or what the win-loss record might be at the end of the season.
That is not what drives me to make the decisions I make as a coach. I coach because I hope that, in 10-15 years’ time, my players will have had the best opportunities to be the best player that they can be. This could be them playing on a Sunday in a local Sunday league with their friends, or playing for their national team. I want them to be confident, creative and have a passion for the game that nobody can take away from them. I want to develop warriors who have a hunger and desire to win games but, equally, have the resilience to face losses and use them to learn and improve.
With this DNA, The FA aim to nurture players who are creative and can master the ball. I mean let’s face it, we are all bored of watching the England men’s team play football that is far from that of our innovative competitors. Modern football is fast-paced, it is skilled and it is exciting to watch. The game of futsal is widely recognised in Spain and Brazil, for example, for its benefits to fast-paced and skilful football. In England, our national teams’ ever-improving style of football goes hand-in-hand with the growth of futsal provision, and that’s no coincidence!
Photo credit: Taken from Hertfordshire FA JODY CAUDWELL: COACHING THE WHY
So what does that mean for the everyday grassroots parent stood on the sidelines? Well, it means that if your child’s coach is following the England DNA, you will (or should!) hear far less commands from the sidelines about how to play the game. Through small-sided games and promoting player ownership in training, we aim to create players who are able to go out on a Saturday or Sunday and play without constant direction and interruption from the sidelines. The players we will create will make mistakes but they will also make fantastic decisions and will be constantly learning whilst they play. It means that, as a parent, you might not understand what the coach is trying to achieve most of the time but, if you go and ask them, I’m sure you’ll be fascinated by the answer.
People say this all of the time: if Messi was English, would he have been the player that he is today? “Pass, pass!”, “Stick it out!” or “Get rid!” have killed our ability to play football. I have watched numerous videos of Messi growing up from 5 years old all the way through to now and he initially looks selfish on the ball but that is precisely how ball mastery is achieved!!! It is confidence not selfishness; it’s actually due to how a child develops. As Messi carried on and on throughout his learning journey, he learnt when to pass the ball and when to dribble with it. Now look at him, wouldn't we all want a Messi on our team?
I urge you to go to your clubs and find out if they’re following The FA’s England DNA or, at least, an adapted version. If you want to find out more and engage with the programme yourself then you can join The FA’s Hive Learning Community.
I urge both parents and coaches to use Hive, if you aren’t already: https://t.co/Rvl4Wf0jaW.
Once you have signed up, you will need to create a profile and then use the ‘Search’ bar to locate the ‘England DNA Foundation Phase’. Here, you will be able to access the information, resources and discussion boards for young players aged 5-11.
We don't want boring football anymore, do we?
...SO, WHAT ABOUT OUR PRINCESSES?
I was given the opportunity to head to St George’s Park, The FA’s National Football Centre, to engage with a programme that I am absolutely certain will make a difference to many girls both here in Lincoln and across the nation. The FA and SSE have launched an initiative designed to inspire girls aged between 5 to 11 to be involved in football. SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football Centres aim to provide girls with regular opportunities to play football and take part in organised sessions in a fun and engaging environment.
#havefun #makefriends #lovefootball #ssewildcats
To find out more about Hykeham Town FC and the Hykeham Town SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football Centre, which is the only one in the City of Lincoln area, please visit our club’s website: http://www.hykehamtownfc.co.uk/