To keep children interested, motivated and wanting to learn we need to understand why children want to play football.
Some suggest that the main reason why children want to play football is to learn about socialisation skills, how to work in a group and achieve group goals, how to deal with the success and failure and learn about sportsmanship.
Certainly, this is the case and it is important for children to reach these goals as practicing sportsmanship is a worthwhile goal as is understanding how to deal with success and failure. But then we ask ourselves is this what our children expect to get out of football practices and games?
This is part of it, but actually we have found that children play football to:
- To have Fun.
- Develop fitness.
- Enjoy competition.
- Learn skills.
We believe that competition is good for children if appropriate feedback is provided and the importance of values, such as sportsmanship and fair play. Competition teaches children not only to cope with sport, but also helps them deal with the inevitable ups and downs of life.
Some studies have revealed that socialisation related reasons are typically near the bottom of the list of reasons that children have given for playing football and sportsmanship comes somewhere in the middle. Research also show that medals, trophies etc. for winning is great but also not one of the main reasons why children play football.
Young children enjoy football as it is a relatively easy game to play, the object of kicking the ball into a goal is easy to grasp and the scoring system is straightforward. Football can be played anywhere and by anyone, there is limited to height, strength or speed, all that is needed is a ball and a flat space. There is no need for lots of expensive equipment as children can play in gardens and parks.
Football is a contact sport with low risk as it is not a collision sport, some contact between players may occur, but generally children football is relatively safe with a lower risk of injury than other rougher team sports.
There is room to grow in football as any child who can run and kick a ball can play, but for children who wish to improve there are always more tricks, skills, moves and strategies to learn and to develop in order to continually improve their game.
We have found that most children want to play football so that they can participate in competitive sport, develop skills and fitness which will allow them to compete as effectively as possible.
However, the main reason why children want to play football is because they want to have loads of fun.