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Working Out the Differences
Who knows what the differences are between playing women’s football and playing mens football. We look at what we think the differences are and reach our own conclusions. I think that we have an idea of what the differences may be when we watch games. The women’s game has greater emphasis on technique whereas the men’s game is faster. This is the general assumption.
“I have never coached girls, I have learnt a lot”, this was a comment made by a coach who had said earlier in discussion that he had approached the female players ‘just as footballers’. The subtext being that he was wrong to do this.
I have an opinion and a tendency to react, unable to hide my displeasure at situations or people. As I mature, I am learning more effective ways to manage this. I learnt a lot about restraint when I was a player. Careful of what I said to officials and mindful of my own physicality, once I grew to appreciate the art of ‘barging’ and the professional foul. I played for 20 years and was cautioned 3 times. The game taught me how to manage my reactions, and how my management could have a positive or negative affect on my performance. I learnt that I could still be a strong player and strong personality without reacting in a negative way.
Unless you have played both men’s and women’s football, you do not know what the differences are. But, as a coach, I have worked with male and female players across the age range. I know the difference between coaching male and female players.
The difference is me.
The FA have introduced some fantastic courses and published guidelines for coaches. The emphasis on an Age Appropriate approach to coaching is vital to our development in the game. I do not think that it is a coincidence that there are no courses or guidelines on coaching male or female players.
I considered my response in discussion with this coach.
”Maybe the difference isn’t that you’re working with girls, but maybe your attitude has been different” this is what I said. I was annoyed and I think that this showed in my tone of voice. I was annoyed because I think that for a coach to hold this opinion, they have to work pretty hard not to demonstrate this opinion through their treatment of the players.
Not every female player is the same as the next, the same for male players.
The coach can foster a self-fulfilling prophecy. The coach sets the tone for what the player experiences. This could be the difference between a player realising their own potential or meeting possible restrictions conceived by the coach.
This Article Was Published in Total Football magazine