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It was reported on Tuesday that a football coach was fired by his club for stating that the boys were not there to have fun and that only winning mattered. Justin Byrne sent an email to parents in which he stated he didn’t “care about equal play time or any other communist view of sport” and that “everything (the boys) are likely to do in life will be competitive so my view is to get them used to it”.

My husband encountered the same attitude this summer. He coaches the Under 11s at a local cricket club and his philosophy is to get the children enjoying cricket – in fact, this is the first thing the English Cricket Board highlighted when he embarked on his training. So both in the practice sessions and matches, he rotates team members and lets everyone have a go at bowling and batting, regardless of their ability. However at the end of one match, he was confronted by an angry father who strongly disagreed with his coaching approach – and went on to say that attitudes of coaches like him at grassroots level were the reason our national teams were so bad.

My husband is a Kiwi and competed nationally in New Zealand in rugby, tennis and badminton, so he can hardly be accused of not wanting to mentor good sportsmen – yet, he feels that children should be supported and encouraged when they are young and that sport should be used to teach core skills such as coordination, agility, balance and speed. Only once these have been learnt can children progress to competing against each other, and begin to understand the difference between winning and losing.

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