I well remember watching a game at Leith Links where one father, who I knew and could hardly regard himself as a decent football player himself, constantly berated and barked at his son to the extent the wee laddie was scared to shout for the ball and faded out the game as a consequence. He was a miserable figure as he walked off the park at full-time and his father was blithely unaware that he had made a major contribution to his boy’s lacklustre performance.
Unfortunately, such incidents are not isolated occurrences and I have witnessed supporters at youth football games bellowing instructions and offering “advice,” sage or otherwise, to the youngsters who were just wanting to express themselves, unencumbered by the tactical “nous” foisted on them by their elders.
It would appear that many such parents are oblivious to the effect that their unwelcome instructions have on their offspring, many of whom may have given up playing the game for fear of incurring the wrath of their parents (usually father) when they make a mistake.
The majority of parents no doubt support their children uncritically and would find the antics of those who think that that they are youth football’s answer to Pep Guardiola abhorrent, who dream that their child will one day pull on the blue jersey of Scotland. If only they would listen to them.