No pain, no gain

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This week’s blog is by the Montessori Dad of our household, Richard O’Leary….



Kiddie sport can be perilous – especially for the parents.Dad and sons black and white

I turned 43 this year and I’m proud to say I’m still active enough to sustain a football injury. When I say football, I mean soccer, and I wasn’t actually playing, I was practising a drill designed for five year-olds. You see, I’ve become coach.

The great thing about being a coach is you don’t have to be skilful, smart or fast – in fact, it was my slowness off the mark which secured me the role. When they asked for a volunteer, everyone else took a step back really quickly.

That was not my only problem. My last game of soccer was as a 14 year-old – and I was a goalkeeper, so I had absolutely no idea how to train these young boys and girls. At training, I did the thing where you put out witches hats and make them dribble the ball around them, and then I got them to play a muck-around game before sending them home.

But after two thumping losses (I know it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, but the team is yet to score a goal – unless you count own-goals – and we lead the league on those), I took up the kind offer of the soccer association to go to a clinic with other dads and mums to learn how to coach.

The first thing we were told was to never to do drills where the kids have to line up – “You know, like when some coaches get kids to dribble through witches hats. And by the way you shouldn’t use witches hats, they are dangerous if a kid falls on one.”

I have to say in the first couple of drills I was killing it. My overactive imagination quickly fast-forwarded to me playing in a proper team on weekends, enjoying the camaraderie of my fellow players and maybe, just maybe, being head-hunted by a Brisbane Roar talent scout.

It was at that moment I felt a sharp pain in my leg like somebody had stabbed me. I quickly scanned my fellow trainee coaches in case one of them had randomly attacked me. But nobody was within cooee. I crumpled to the turf, fantasy shattered, calf muscle torn.

There was only one thing to do – I said I had to go (an hour earlier than scheduled) and hobbled off to my car at the far end of the field, clutching the red folder of soccer drills firmly under my arm, feeling every day of my 43 years.

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