Benny Sip
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Parents, Take A Step Back: A Letter From The Technical Director

Hello Olé Football Academy Parents, 

I've spent the past few months on the sidelines observing what is occurring on "game days," particularly concerning junior teams (grades 11 - 14). There are a number of very good initiatives occurring on game days around how the players are conducting themselves - working hard to apply the academy's training methodologies and driving the style of play. The parents are engaged, supportive and are playing an important role in nourishing the love and interest of their child's football. Although there are a number of positives, I would like to bring attention to the disconnect I have noticed between training and game days. My aim below is to clearly outline the disconnect, so moving forward we can continue to foster the best environment for New Zealand player development and the young player at Olé Football Academy. 

My main concern stems from "game days" and the amount of parent intervention coming from the sidelines. It is my concern that information coming from the sidelines is beginning to interfere with the delicate cognitive learning and decision making process of each player. I am observing completely different behaviours from players when they are in the "learning environment" (training). It is important to note that it is the academy's view that the game day is simply an extension of the learning environment and process we are attempting to foster each day in training. We have asked that parents refrain from watching training in order to build an optimal learning environment. An environment where the players are fully engaged and one clear message is coming from the trainer. We do this to create an environment where there is little confusion, expectations are high and distraction is minimal. (Above Photo credit: Kevin Stent) 

Parent Game Day Expectations

- Please refrain from communicating "football related information" to the players during the match.

- What is "football related information?" i.e. "Pass here," "Move there," "Man on," "Mark him / her," etc... 

- If an Olé trainer is present at the match, please allow him / her to work exclusively with the players and manager.

- If an Olé trainer is not present at the match, please leave communication of football related information to the appointed manager. 

- We encourage parents to support the players by helping create an optimal learning environment: waking them up on time, providing nutritious meals, driving them to games, ensuring players are having fun, supporting them! 

- Encouragement is different than giving information, feedback or analysing the game. We have provided resources to help parents below. 

- We prefer that players do not engage with parents during the game (unless injured). Game days should be a time for the players to work exclusively with the trainer and each other. 

- If possible, parents and supporters should be located on the other side of the pitch from the players, trainers, and managers during the match and half - time intervals. 

We hope that the above expectations are clear. Please note, this message in not intended to stir angst among parents. In fact, a number of parents / groups of parents are working in accordance with the above. As our #1 objective is to always work in the best interest of player development, the above expectations are intended to help the players improve and maximise potential. 

Please see the below list of resources we have chosen for parents interested in learning more about our approach towards the player - academy - parent (P.A.P.) relationship. We have also attached the beginning of the year PDF as a reminder for parents.  

Educational Parent Resources

Changing The Game Project: Shifting The Paradigm

Changing The Game Project: The Ride Home

Player Development Project: Learning Begins When Teaching Stops

Player Development Project: Let Them Ride

PlayerDevelopmentProject: US Soccer Dropouts

Soccer Parenting Summit: Sideline Pass

FFA Coaching Resource: From Fightball to Football

TOVO Blog: Why Your Player's Talent Is Irrelevant

Mark Upton: We Can't Be Our Best Until You're Your Best

Olé T.V. Episode 9: A Parent Perspective (Above)

Just Kickin' It Podcast Episode #93: Todd Beane

If you have any questions or thoughts please feel free to reach out to me directly. Thank you, 

Declan Edge

Ben Sippola