Took the youngest to his match today, first of the season and only a friendly. I say friendly, but there was little friendly about it from my boys perspective. Firstly let me tell you about the club. Based in Bedfont they're called the Eagles (borrowed from Crystal Palace), have lots of Chelsea fans there and loads of Fulham stuff in the bar. It was veritable London club mash up. It seems like they have good facilities and teams for under 7's right the way up to the adult squad. My boy is in the under 7's with his two very best mates in the world.
The game was to start at 10am, we had to be there for 9.30am so that the team could discuss strategy and warm up. They're the smallest kids in the league and yet there was a mix up when all the Mums ordered the kits, I tried my boys shirt on and it fitted ok. I feel sure with my slender waist the shorts would have been no problem. So out run these little gnomes in duvet covers. They did what seems to be the norm for practice and worked on their goal celebrations. Rain had been threatening but held of for the match, to be honest I was just pleased that it wasn't windy, in those kits they would have been thrown into the air like discarded carrier bags.
The game got under way. I was surprised because for all the training they do, they all ran in a knot around the ball. The only ones who maintained any distance were the goal keepers and they were stretched out on the floor. My boys team had a fair amount of the possession but had trouble getting into the box, not sure they actually had a shot on target all match. The other side scored three. They didn't really dominate the game but they were able to get in and make use of it.
I'd spoken to the manager before the game, mainly to introduce myself. I will be attending all the games from now as they take place when he is in our care and it seemed a good idea to make myself known. I asked how he thought my boy was getting on. He said that he was impressed with his talent but mainly his passion, "He gets the right hump" were the words he used. This is quite an accurate evaluation. He did get the hump. There were tears at the final whistle. The boys, not mine.
His main beef was that he'd been fouled at least three times (I saw him tell all his team mates this minutes before the final whistle) and that he'd got nothing for them. I have to admit I was astonished at his reactions. His other passion is dancing. He watches any video with dancing and mimics it. He gets it all down, including the dancers facial expressions. What I witnessed was a boy who has watched a lot of football and seen time and time again players appealing for a free lick. He had the face, the arms going up, he'd no sooner hit the floor than he was looking at the ref. For him, his game was ruined. He was really upset by it. Later in the car on the way home I suggested to him that from now on he changes his thinking, He has to imagine that free kicks simply do not exist. I told him that if he goes down, he must get up thinking that he will exact his revenge by either setting up a goal or scoring himself. I told him that if he achieves this then he could run over to the other kid that fouled him and say "You want me to do more of that then keep on.
He's not a bad lad by any stretch of the imagination. He's just seen that that is how you do it,. You throw yourself down, you appeal, you get the hump when that doesn't work, you blame the ref for the team losing. He sees it every Sunday morning,
On the touchline parents were grumbling about the management style,I wondered what the fuck was going on. This had stopped being fun for everyone. This wasn't England losing the World cup final, it was an under 7's friendly.
He was getting more philosophical about it, even managing a laugh about it until we got him to his Mum's house. Then his step brother announced that his side had won. My boy nearly broke down in tears again. I take the blame for this though, I hate losing. I can't help myself, even when I try no to care, I care loads. The boy is just like me in that respect and many others I am told.
Anyways, the season starts proper soon and it looks as though it could be a long one.
It's good that you're going with him, you'll be able to offer him some perspective and teach him to be a good sport, rather than a Ronaldo-like stain on humanity.