Football : The Beautiful Game

Does your child play soccer or football? Liam McGroarty of FAI tell us what football can teach kids and why it is the “Beautiful Game”

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Sport Ticks All the Boxes

FAI Burren Utd.The kids are bored….. you are tired, at your wits end….  But you know you should be doing something for them, with them.

Childhood obesity, social interaction, emotional intelligence, fun, smiles, safety …. these are just some of the things that cross your mind when it comes to your children, some of the things that you have responsibility for… and you want to do your best by them.

Sport is one of the things that ticks all these boxes.

I had the privilege of spending some time working as a volunteer in Lesotho in the mid 90’s – living in a little town of 30,000 people, teaching English and playing football! I was the only white guy in the town, I didn’t speak Sotho, and very few of the locals had good English, but when we played football, everyone understood.

Playing for the local team, I was given a new name, Tabotha, a new identity, a new purpose, a new home.

Football broke down barriers, opened new conversations, developed friendships, shaped personalities and uploaded memories that will never be forgotten … that’s the ‘beautiful game’.

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Helping Children Develop Skills and Qualities

FAI-girlsFootball is the beautiful game – like most sports, it helps children develop fantastic skills and qualities:

  • teamwork
  • dedication
  • passion
  • competitiveness
  • losing gracefully
  • pride
  • humility
  • respect
  • creativity
  • problem solving
  • leadership
  • control, discipline … the list goes on and on

As parents, we want our children to have these things in abundance.

Put a ball in front of two children and the lesson begins, they find their feet, they’re on their way. The most beautiful thing is that the game teaches: parents only have to watch (not that easy – so many parents kick every ball and make every run as they watch their children play!)

But let them play. Take them to their local club and if you have time, volunteer; if not, then enjoy them playing and being taught by the beautiful game.

The FAI Programme

The FAI Fundamentals programme aims to help kids learn all the basic movement skills, using a well-structured, positive and fun approach.  Soccer skills are introduced with an emphasis on fun, skill development and small-sided games.  As well as technical, tactical and physical skills, the programme emphasises:

  • a positive attitude to sport
  • confidence
  • concentration
  • achieving success
  • receiving positive reinforcement
  • enjoying the game
  • being part of the group

A Manager (And Mum’s) Viewpoint

Linda Higgins is the mother of two sons and is a manager with Kells Blackwater Football Club – one of the largest soccer clubs in the North East.

“I played soccer competitively when I was a teenager and have always loved the sport. When my sons wanted to sign up for Kells Blackwater FC, I was delighted – and then I was somehow persuaded to get involved myself!

Along with a male coach, I manage the Kubz team – or the Soccer Superstars as we call them. They’re the youngest players in the Club and we are out at the grounds almost every Saturday afternoon, come rain or shine, from September up until May.

It has been very much a case of starting with basic skills and building it up over the season and our training always ends with a friendly match (which nearly always ends in a draw, funnily enough!)

We welcome parents to get involved and help with linesman duties or just to yell encouragement. Our commitment to the Club does take up a fair chunk of time each Saturday, but it has also been hugely rewarding. Both my boys – and all my Kubz charges – have learned lots of new skills, improved their co-ordination and balance, discovered the importance of team work and fair play – and made lots of new friends in to the bargain.

At that young age, there is a fair amount of wiping tears/snotty noses and tying bootlaces involved in our coaching too – and I lost count of the number of football shirts and boots that I cleaned last season. However, I’ve loved watching the children progress in skills and confidence and I hope that we’ll be involved in the Club for a long time to come. I’d definitely encourage parents to get more involved.”

fai_crest_colFor those who want to get involved in football, there are clubs and leagues in your local area who are calling out for more players, coaches, referees and administrators. For more information visit the FAI website,

Article provided by Liam McGroarty, Head of Grassroots Football, The Football Association Ireland.

Do you or your child play football?  Tell us about it in in the comment box below.

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls