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Also, why not try: 01


Let the kids decide who plays what game and when Can you challenge their leadership skills to decide this? Can you ask them to think about different reasons as to why certain players would play at certain times? Can you ask them then to think about who plays and why?


For example, if you know some of the teams you are playing against, the children might decide that the best player has to play against the best opposition but could be rested against a lesser team. There is every chance they will come to the same conclusion you would have done - but think about the added value of learning they get from making this decision themselves. This helps support empowering young people - vital.


02


Let the players have an input into what positions they play Can you be bold and ask their opinion? That player you have pigeon holed all season "because he kicks it a long way therefore must play in defence" might want to try playing somewhere else. Your goalkeeper might want to have a try playing out on pitch. In my experiences, I have one or two outfield players in my team that think they are a goalkeeper and love messing about with the gloves on, so let them play a game there.


03


Let the learners contribute on the formation and strategy to play Have the discussion with the players - what is the best formation to play and why? If we play a 2-3-1 and they play a 3-1-2 where does this mean we have advantages? Where does this mean they might have advantages? Rather than you decide every game what and how it shall all be done, relax and listen to the views of the children. They might have some really good ideas.


04


Manage the parents' expectations If you have the kids taking ownership of the day on some of the matters above, share this with the parents. Explain that the kids have decided on certain aspects and they should be commended for having a go at trying something new. Share the definition of success for the day.


One of the best pieces of advice is to ask your parents to bring a chair so they can sit down, relax, and enjoy watching their kids have a good time playing football. The ones you can get at a motorway service station, 2 for £12 that fold up and have a drinks holder in the armrest, brilliant, get yourself some of them.


It's amazing how chilled parents become if they are sitting down watching a game rather than standing up, edging along the touchline desperate to shout what they think is advice to their son or daughter.


05


Understand the day from their perspective Tournaments and festivals are often long days, sometimes with long breaks between games and lots of boredom. However, it is a real necessity that you manage the health and energy levels of the children appropriately. Make sure they drink enough and have sun cream on, especially in hot weather. Make sure they eat enough, sensible reasonably healthy food too. The last thing you want is the players filling themselves with sweets throughout the day, massively high blood sugar levels (and managing them) and then when they crash down, having to pick them up to play in a game.


They will be very excitable at the start, probably expend more energy when they aren't playing doing other things (still playing, chasing each other, messing about) and then wonder why they have nothing left in the tank when it comes to game time. Try and ensure the players get rest between matches too and by engaging them in tasks 1-3, this keeps them focused on football without racing about or throwing water over each other.


It can also be a time that pressure builds, depending on how far they might get in the competition. Manage this; make sure they don't feel under pressure to "have to win" but to constantly "try their best". That's all you can ask of them.


And if they lose on penalties in the semi-final, expect them to be upset, expect a few tears. What is important is the learning and lessons that come from times like this, so focus on these factors rather than your own disappointment. This needs to be hidden away from their view - no flailing arms, moaning at the referee or shouting at anyone - be a good role model to the children, that's what they want from you.


Children just want to know everything will be OK, you still love them regardless of whether they won or lost and that tomorrow is another day.


Nick Levett is FA National Development Manager (Youth Football) a role which


focuses on making the game more child- friendly whilst helping to develop better players.


Prior to this, Nick set up and


managed The FA Tesco Skills Programme and The FA young leadership programme.


Major influences on Nick’s work include the work of Lynn Kidman, Bennett Lombardo and Russ Quaglia all of whom have put the young person and their development at the heart of their work, something Nick has a strong belief in.


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