This weekend is the first foray back into netball and I’m just back home.
We’re in a new level, and the teams have been graded for development purposes. The grading took place last year and was performed by an independent, objective, and non-member of our club. There’s no way on God’s green earth I could’ve done it, given my daughter is in the squad. I tell you though, without favour, Our Girl has a natural, sporty flair and she is a skilled netballer; but still, if I’d been the one to place her in the ‘stronger’ team, it would only result in some murky and troubled sludge with other parents. Unnecessary, and nobody—especially me—needs that.
However, there is still unrest from the parents whose daughters are in the second team. They can’t see why the teams couldn’t have the mix of players like last year. Again, this isn’t my decision. It’s the club’s policy, born out of the fact that stronger players in a team (any team sport) will literally pass over those who are less skilled in order to move the ball down court and score. By placing each player in evenly matched teams, they get a much better chance of developing personally as netballers and building on their skills.
Both my teams played at the same time slot, so our club president offered to help me. In discussions between us during the week, we decided I would coach the ‘second’ team. It was a disaster. We didn’t even score one goal. The opposing team were taller, stronger and outplayed us fair and square. We showed lots of sloppy passing, we got stuck behind our players, we bunched on court. It seemed they forgot everything they learned up to this point.
And for me, I may as well have been sitting in Antarctica. The atmosphere was that cold, that icy, that frosty. Parents barely spoke to me; those that did could not meet my eyes.
It’s all part of being the coach, I know. Particularly in kids’ sports. We naturally and understandably want our kids to do well and when it goes wrong the coach is blamed. However, I can wholly acquit myself from the blame here, as the decision to be in a higher level comes from the association; the decision to grade the teams, the club.
It hurt though. I am human and I have this annoying need to be liked by others. It was really hard to sit on the bench with the parents around me and feel the coldness and the blank stares. Hardly any of them cheered their children on. And that’s the part that really made me sad…despite what you may think of the process, for goodness sake, have the scruples to put it behind you and cheer on your daughter.
And, when the match was over, following our debrief, only two parents thanked me. I missed watching my own daughter play to coach theirs and most of them walked off without a thank you. Not that I’m in this for the accolades, but that was disappointing.
Sorry, needed to rant this morning.
Image courtesy of Australian Government: https://campaigns.health.gov.au/girlsmove/activity/netball