Sunday 29 September 2013

Sunday Morning youth football - A joy to behold, so don't make the kids play in your rubbish

This morning I was up bright and early to watch my son play in goal for Watling FC under 14's. The match was played at Cressingham Park, Burnt Oak. The opposition were Kodak FC under 14's and the competition was the League cup. The sun was shining gloriously and the pitch looked immaculate. The match featured some excellent football from both sides. Kodak shot to an early lead, and were 3-0 up before Watling pulled one back just before half time. Watling had been unlucky, hitting the woodwork twice. After the break it was a different story with Watling turning the game around to lead 5-3, before Kodak pinched a late goal. Final score 5-4.

The Harrow and District Youth League features some excellent teams and generally the games are played in good spirits. Todays game was no exception. Kodak are known for being a good team and being well run. Football at this level is a totally different proposition to the Premiership. You don't see players rolling around on the floor, seemingly on deaths door, only to be miraculously cured by the sight of the referee brandishing a card at the opposition. The players don't have Ferrari's and WAG's (well they are only 13!). They play because they love football and want to get better at the game. Watling have recruited some new coaches this season. This has made a big difference to the side. The boys have been energised and are training really well. 

I happen to believe that youth football is a vital part of growing up and is essential in teaching boys team spirit and discipline. The same is true of cricket, rugby, hockey and all of the other team sports that are played in the Borough. It is absolutely vital that we all do everything we can to encourage the growth and health of such clubs. In Watling the boys come from a huge range of diverse ethnic and social backgrounds. The coaches work to bring all of the boys together into one team, with a common aim. My own son takes the team seriously. He voluntarily had an early night as he wanted to be on top form. They are currently training twice a week and playing on a Sunday. For boys of this age, this burns off energy that would otherwise be unfocused. 

We are lucky to have decent parks and nice facilities in Barnet and London generally. Sadly we have lost many pitches and clubs, especially at adult level. This is not a positive development. Football keeps people fit and active. It is a skill best developed in youth. I am 51 and I play twice a week at Powerleague (Mill Hill). The advent of centres like Powerleague, where old fat blokes like myself can play under floodlights after work is a positive development, but we need to build a love of the game in players when they are young.

I love watching my sons team in rain or shine. Days like today are glorious, but the bad times are also precious. I'd urge anyone who has youngsters to get them playing a sport. I have always told my children that if you play a team sport (especially football) or play a musical instrument, you can live anywhere in the world and make friends. 

There was one small blot on the experience. As the boys were warming up,  I took our dogs for a walk around Cressingham Park (which is a lovely park). In one corner, a selfish inconsiderate local resident had dumped a load of rubbish and waste. Why are people so selfish as to not care for their surroundings and neighbours. There is another dog walker, who lives around the corner, who said that a couple of residents have been caught previously and fined heavily. I'd urge anyone who sees their neighbours flytipping to report them to Barnet Council. It costs our money to clean this mess up. I don't want my kids to have to play in other peoples rubbish. I have no sympathy with anyone who is so selfish as to mess up our community assets.  My message to everyone is clean up your mess. 

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