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Pop Star Players
In the UK, between 1921 and 1971, despite previously achieving crowds of 5,000, the women’s game was banned from being played at grounds where men’s Football Association teams games were played. Now the women’s game has entered an exciting era. At last governing bodies are investing much needed cash, more games are being televised and our female players are becoming household names. Greater emphasis is being placed on capturing female talent at a younger age. There are successes being seen at youth and grass roots level, with more academies and soccer schools being established in USA, Canada, UK and Germany to name but a few.
What more could you ask for?
“If you were to insure your body, how much would you insure it for?” I asked a youth player.
“I don’t know”, she replied.
My question was not a casual one, and her response frightened me. She is a talented player, enthusiastic, determined, technically competent, but carrying her parent around like a ruck-sac full of old pots and pans.
It was not just her words that concerned me, but the apparent disregard she had for the question. Mumbling her reply and shrugging her shoulders. Her parent, for once, was stood in the designated parents area rather than following her around like a shadow. It was obvious that she almost did not know how to digest the question. She was like a manufactured pop star who sings only what she is told by the record label. Looking good, singing other people’s songs and never questioning the lyrics. The fact is that this young player had just suffered an injury, but was fighting against the sensible advice being given to her by her coaches. A ‘pop star player’ can be a real pain.
Who can forget Brandi Chastain’s celebration after scoring the winning penalty for the USA which clinched the World Cup in 1999?
Brandi Chastain is now in her 40’s, and despite giving birth to her son in 2006, she still plays at a competitive level. She is a professional and a role model to many. No doubt she has listened to the right people and has looked after her body, allowing it to repay her with years of good service.
Players should always think about how important this fantastic game is. Parents are wonderful and helpful to clubs as supporters, maybe even becoming coaches themselves. However, the player is the most important person. Their development and learning is vital.
The field and club should not act as an extension of a domestic situation. Instead, it should be a place of healthy socialising and discovery of who the player is away from possible pressures at home, for example. The player should ask their own questions, make their own mistakes and learn from them, this is part of their growth and independence.
The player should look to insure her body for a lot more than a shrug of the shoulders.
This Article was Published in Women’s Soccer Scene magazine