Typically, a child does not want to be in school, does not want to be in church, does not want to sit still and listen. But a child loves to be on a sports field. A coach has the unique opportunity to impact children, there where they love to be.
“Bend the tree while it is young,” the saying goes. Based on Erik Erikson’s psychosocial stages of human development, young players (until the age of 18) are at the perfect age where change can occur through instilling new values and mind-sets. Whereas a child can be strongly impacted in their development, before moral patterns and mind-sets have been finalised, it’s always difficult to affect change in an adult’s life. A coach can help the young players to instil positive values, healthy identity and lay a solid foundation for their lives. It’s more effective to invest in a child’s life early rather than trying to deal with or change the symptoms (e.g. drug abuse, behavioural issues) later.
Seeing the child several times a week for a long period of time, allows consistent influence activating change in a young player’s life. Being available over a long period of time, lays a foundation of trust and allows the players to share openly about their challenges and questions in life.
Even though the problem of fatherlessness is highlighting the role of a man and father, the roles of a father can be filled by both male and female coaches.
A coach cannot be the physical father, but male and female coaches can play some of the father’s roles in the lives of their players.
Coaches as father figures are positive role models, help establish moral authority, communicate identity, provide security, validate potential and coach life through football.
Players coached by a father figure develop a healthy self-esteem, learn to make wise decisions, have a positive outlook on life and a solid foundation to build their life on.
This leads to breaking the cycle of fatherlessness, and these players grow up and become positive fathers/father figures, mothers and role models themselves.
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