On a grass field, not too far from home. Tucked between the Lane Cove River and suburban Lindfield, two opposition forces face off against each other in the battle of all battles. Simply known as ‘the rivalry’.
The rivalry is a misunderstood event. On the field seven nine-year-olds face an opposition force of the same size, same height and similar artillery – all dressed in flashy green and orange football boots with socks pulled high.
Those in the ivory tower of the sideline, watching every shot, movement and dispossession are eager to leave the ground with a big ‘W’ on their chest, but for others this ‘battle’ is something different.
You ask the ‘Stormtroopers’ of one side what their core objective is over the next 40 minutes of football and they simply answer – ‘to win’.
The other side, our ‘Jedi’, if you will, respond in different fashion, stating they look forward to trying a new trick they learnt, and enjoying playing amongst their best friends.
The battle ends, one team leaves happy, the other. Well, they aren’t that bummed at the end of the day. The Stormtroopers had won, played like chess pieces by their coach to squeeze and squash the opposition of space and time. Their leader, lets call him/her ‘Darth Vader’ leaves the field, quietly pleased, but showing no emotion externally as the team troops away from another weekend triumph, battered but in control.
The Jedi leader, ‘Yoda’ is the complete opposite. Throwing high fives, re-enacting a step over one youngling did to take on an opponent, buzzing, alive, HAPPY. The rest of the Jedi are not too dissimilar. With their loved ones by their side, they amble out of the battlefield reliving the moments of creative flair with smiles on their faces.
As parents, coaches, managers and loved ones – we must be confident that our players, OUR JEDI, are gaining the best football and life experience from ‘the rivalry’. The experience however begins a long time before ‘the rivalry’, it begins on the training ground, each and every weekday afternoon, led by their coach and motivated by those around them.
The choice of a coach is simple, are you Yoda or are you Darth Vader?
Do you COMMAND AND CONTROL, or facilitate GUIDED DISCOVERY?
Do you demand respect and take control of others actions? Do you limit creativity and create followers with little individuality? Do you dispel collaborative and constructive communication?
Do you have a team of Stormtroopers? Are you Darth Vader?
Do you ask questions and listen to different opinions? Discussing and problem solving as 8 brains, rather than one?
Do you provide an environment for your Padawan to discover their own learning, explore their own creativity and overall create a diverse group of individuals?
Are you Yoda? Do you lead the Jedi?
With a long season of ‘battles’ ahead, make your decision, make it informed, and make it for the players. You are not the hero, your Jedi are.
May the 4th be with you!
Written by Ed Ferguson.