At The iCue Academy we don’t believe in giving out trophies for ‘Best Player’ or ‘Top Goalscorer’ as this isn’t what really matters to us. It’s great to see children smiling for pictures on Facebook when they’ve been awarded a well done, but we understand this well done should be for who they are as a person, what they’re doing to help others and how they’re trying to improve themselves for tomorrow.
So, our awards are for demonstrating our values during the week, for Connecting, Understanding and Evolving. We’ll have an article on our values soon but read on and you’ll get a flavour of the sort of things we have praised children for this week.
So why not give trophies for ‘Best Player’ and ‘Top Goalscorer’ at camp?
Often as children the most effective players in matches are those who are physically more developed than their peers. For example, the child born in September/October uses a physical advantage over a child in her year born in July/August. This may be further developed power, which allows her to run faster, jump higher or strike the ball harder. Meanwhile the less physically developed child may find it harder to stay on the ball under pressure, pass the ball longer distances or strike it hard enough to beat a tall goalkeeper. The difference between September and August is 11 months. In a 6 year old child 11 months is up to 20% of their life.
That’s a big difference in physical maturity, you wouldn’t expect an average 15 year old to be able to compete physically with an average 19 year old!
So, if we’re watching games and looking to identify the best player, we’re probably going to identify children who are successful because of the success they’re getting from physical attributes in comparison to their peers. We believe it’s important not to do this, as physical advantages now are unlikely to still be physical advantages when they’re 16, 20, 24 years old.
So what, why’s that significant?
Well, if we want children to be successful on the football pitch when they’re 16, 20, 24 then they need to have learned as children how to use their strengths, but also be determined to improve them! Our example of the girl who is able to run fast and strike the ball better than her peers, she needs to learn how to keep the ball without using her strength, or use different types of finish to score, because eventually all the other kids are going to develop physically too and then her advantages may no longer be there – meaning she can’t use her extra speed to get away with a bad touch or use her extra strength to keep the ball away from an opponent.
How? Well we have to instil a work ethic, a willingness to try things that are difficult and be challenged, an appreciation for learning from others and reflecting on how she got success, a desire to practice, practice, practice. This is something Carol Dweck refers to as a ‘Growth Mindset’ which children are introduced too in schools.
But, we all know it’s much more important than just football, right?
These are some examples of the football reasons against focussing praise on being the ‘Best Player’ or ‘Top Goalscorer’ – but that’s only a small part of it.
We don’t know whether any of the children we are fortunate to coach will become professional footballers as adults, or even represent the Isle of Man, but we do know they’ll all be a part of the community. They’ll all work in our businesses, shop in our supermarkets and have their own children in our schools. Therefore it’s important we recognise those who are trying to be good people and trying to better themselves. Focussing our praise for the behaviours we want to see in the community; giving a well done to children for their level of respect, helpfulness, empathy towards others, embracing peoples differences, commitment to improving and developing their understanding. So, these are the things we reward, check it out;
Jack – throughout the week he stopped playing to help others and tie their shoelaces…he’s 5!
Rufus – his team lost in the final of the ‘Match Attax’ tournament on Thursday. Afterwards some of his team mates were disappointed and he took time to console each of them and offer them some encouragement.
Edward – connected 1:1 with Graeme by making up a story about an Avenger, telling him stories each day about this Avenger and then on Friday revealing that it wasn’t real and he’d created it himself!
Sol and Junior – taught Sophie how to do a rainbow flick. Helped her each morning teaching her how to do it, encouraging her to keep trying and even brought in a book which gave guidelines on what to do…by Friday she’d got it!
Jasper – was impressed with how well his friends had done in the games that morning and so bought them an ice-pop each at lunchtime to surprise them.
Connor – had struggles early in the week managing conflict, wasn’t able to cope when there was a disagreement and had some difficult moments. Graeme gave him some strategies to try and later in the week caught him using Rock, Paper, Scissors as a tool to settle a disagreement in the game.
Owen – struggling with ‘Top Bins’ on Monday, kept practicing throughout the week and managed to get 5 on Friday morning!
Caleb – asked which group he could play with on the Friday. The coaches asked him which he would like to play with and he replied ‘with the older ones so that I can challenge myself.’