The Grassroots football session
The structure of the grassroots football session should be adapted to meet the children’s needs. Warming up and cooling down should be presented to the children as games, where they can enjoy themselves while doing physical exercises (warm-ups and relaxation).
The main part of the session comprises games and exercises. These should cover a range of activities and be varied. Most importantly, the activities should cover the objectives that the coach-educator has set for the session. The session should include small-sided games as a major component. The main way that children learn is by playing a lot; in this way the children enjoy themselves and come to love football.
Care must be taken not to consider the children as small adults; sessions that have been prepared for adults should not be copied.
With regard to equipment, the coach-educator must be able to adapt to the different situations encountered and find alternative solutions based on his/her knowledge and experience. The equipment should be checked before the children arrive to make sure it is available and ready for the session. Although FIFA provides an equipment kit for every grassroots football project, it may be the case that there is not enough equipment. There may be a lack of bibs or cones or some children may not have suitable footwear.
However, the success of the session does not depend on the equipment but rather on the coach-educator’s attitude and skills in making the most of the situation.
It is important to keep the parents informed of the exercises carried out; they appreciate being told about the activities their children are involved in. In some cases, the parents can help the coach-educator run the session. It is a good idea to talk to the parents about their roles and responsibilities and involve them in the project.