Ivan's Blog: To Be Or Not To Be [Youth Football Player]?

Photo: youthsportsdaily.palmbeachpost.com 
Is Europe really ready for youth football leagues? Or, let’s be more precise, for youth football players?

All that “youth football” looks like a great thing. Thing that could become a system, from which we could get great players that could compete with the best (did I say American players?). But is it that simple? Is football really that popular/big sport here in Europe?

So, let’s see. We have will and intention to make a system that will help those kids form their personalities through one more step from flag to senior football, but do we have enough kids for that?

Since there is no any international (European) youth football competition, it looks like that “step” would be just a correction place between flag and junior football. It would also represent the devaluation of flag football by worthless competition could just show them what can they expect in junior football (and junior football has a point, since there are U19 national teams and U19 European championship).

Photo: playfootballpleasanton.com
And even if we ignore all these stuff, there is something else. Who can guarantee that those kids would be safe? Is that equalization with North American football system really that important to European federations that they would risk everything, even children’s health, just to say that they have some positive organization results? 

It has to be said because there is a big question mark over coaching staff of junior teams. They don’t mean any harm to junior players, but they are not a real coaches often. They are more like (former) players that would like to improve and that would like to help those kids. But it’s different when you teach a 15 year old and 19 year old how to tackle. So, if Europe wants youth football, then Europe is in need of more coaches. Real coaches that understand both youth anatomy and youth football.

Another problem would be number of those players. For example, Great Britain, which has a great American football tradition (when talking about Europe) and many football teams and leagues, is one of rare European countries that has youth football league (and it’s U17).

Photo: youthsportsdaily.palmbeachpost.com
Why don’t we just focus on flag selections if it is only about “forming” and “kid’s play” stuff? Why don’t we wait until we have more educated coaches and much players that would play it? Why wouldn’t we form that sporting personality through the flag football and prepare those kids for junior teams, where they can “grow” and improve as players? 

This imagined and wanted “jumping” from one category to another can’t be good for young guys (of this young sport) that are not sure if they want to play this sport yet, for sure.

Who are we to put their health to risk? Don’t play with those things, because kids are those who are supposed to play.

So don’t force them in full contact. Just let them play.

Ivan Kovačević