With another Secondary school Football League season on the horizon in September, the first return to play since 2019, the various members of the competing schools will no doubt be anticipating a competition that provides exciting opportunities to showcase abilities and are important learning opportunities for the young student-athletes in our country.
Every player who ends up on the final roster of his school team should be ready to give his all for so many reasons. The young player’s responsibilities relate to doing what is necessary to maximise the opportunities that will come their way this season. These responsibilities include giving their best effort, being responsible and disciplined, listening to coaches, being good at sports, being prepared, being respectful, and, importantly, being grateful for the opportunity to play and represent their schools and communities.
To each player, some other practical responsibilities will include participating in all training sessions, getting the most out of coaching, being cooperative and expressing appreciation to your parents, school staff, team coaches, and everyone else that will help you strive toward your goals.
But while players and coaches will be anxious to take the field, they should also be prepared to expect the unexpected. Things never go exactly as planned. Something unexpected or unusual will inevitably happen. Players, coaches and managers need to maintain a sense of humour or achieve a level of perspective when things out of the ordinary occur. At these times it will be useful to utilise preplanned refocusing strategies. Further, some crises or setbacks could also arise. During those times, it will be important to problem solve and find alternate ways to push through the issue. Open communication between the League and teams will be important at this point. Lessons need to be drawn and adjustments made to maintain and regain mental readiness and optimal focus.
The total experience for me means having fun, developing essential life skills and achieving their goals. This is what the main benefits of the SSFL will be for everyone taking part.
Practical responsibilities of management teams include ensuring that your players have the necessary equipment, proper coaching, and transportation, among other logistical concerns. Psychological and emotional support includes providing love, guidance, encouragement, and perspective in their efforts must also be on the cards
To parents, coaches, managers and school staff who will be involved, it may be necessary to make a listing of what you, in your particular roles, can do to help your players succeed. Ask your players what you can do to help them and what you should avoid doing. Next, have the player also make a list of what their responsibilities should be. If you feel your players have missed some important responsibilities, suggest them. Then, identify other individuals who will have responsibilities within the team and list what responsibilities they should have.
There should also be consequences for not fulfilling responsibilities. The best consequences are those that remove something of importance to the players and give them the control to get it back by acting appropriately, for instance, reaching late to practice or not showing at all. Find a way to make the player not want to make this mistake again for the rest of the season.
If those in charge along with the players are in agreement on their respective responsibilities, all should run quite smoothly. On the other hand, if there is conflict related to each of your responsibilities, trouble likely lies ahead. To prevent problems from arising once the new season arrives, you’ll want to discuss before the season starts how you can all get on the same page about who is responsible for what.
As teams enter the final stages of preparation for the SSFL over the coming few days, it is important to adhere to the “less is more” attitude. The tendency is to want to over-prepare for the event by squeezing in a number of sessions and warm-up games as the season opener approaches, Your players need to be well rested and mentally relaxed in order to perform optimally. Small refinements may be necessary but the key is to stick with the elements that have been working. Often this minimalisation is achieved with a simple tapering plan, but it is important that both coaches and players are aware of the concept and mindful of its implementation.
There is a significant difference between having a competition “Performance” and a competition “Experience.” A competition “Performance” implies a clear focus on the task at hand and a commitment to choices that will give the best possible chance for optimal performance to occur. Conversely, a competition “Experience” implies taking in the sights and sounds of the competition without a clear goal or focus. Ultimately, it will be important to find a balance between the two and allow an opportunity to be absorbed in the league atmosphere. Remember the league has seen no action for over two years, so there will be rough areas and good quality may take time. But hey, enjoy the Season as if there’s “no tomorrow.”