Child’s play?

I found this site very thought-provoking: Give us back our game. It argues that kids’ football has been spoiled by the over-active participation of adults.

Today’s children learn from the grown-ups . Without the freedom of the streets their early experiences of football are organised supervised and coached. They have no real say in what happens, and they don’t have time to develop and learn.

The problem areas are:

* No longer the children’s game – it is controlled by adults

* The same children on the bench or omitted every game

* Coaches and parents screaming from the touchlines

* Winning before fun and development

* Not enough free play where children can solve their own problems

* Children are not encouraged to express themselves

* Children no longer learn about the spirit of the game for themselves

There are few things more toxic to learning than overzealous people who think they know best and who don’t separate their own experience from those they are supervising.

I think it was Donald Winnicott who distinguished between parents who liked to regulate their children – basically telling them what to do – and those who facilitated, focussing on creating a safe space and on engaging with what the child was interested in. He illustrated this with his observations of how a parent and child engaged with as mundane an object as a spatula.

Hat tip: Tom Watson’s tweet

4 thoughts on “Child’s play?

  1. Mike Wagner

    I totally connect with this.

    I learned basketball hanging out at a YMCA across from my home. We played, fought, added skills and formed friendships without parents.

    This is not to say that parents and coaches are unimportant.

    What I think I’m saying is that the deeper love the game and the relationships formed by playing the game arose without parental participation.

    Thanks for picking up on this and sharing.

    Keep creating…practical surprise,


  2. Robert Poynton

    Apparently DH Lawrence had three pieces of advice for organising children’s play: “leave them alone, leave them alone, leave them alone”. As a parent I find the sentiment bears repetition.

  3. neilperkin

    Some of my fondest childhood memories are of long, hot days in the summer holiday playing football in the park…jumpers for goalposts and knowing that, when you could barely see the ball coming towards you, it was probably time to start heading home. But not before ‘next goal wins…’

    True childhood independence delivered by Raleigh bikes and no adult supervision.


    Reminds me that when children start drawing, the adult response is immediately to reward them to draw within the lines and chastise them for going beyond the boundaries.


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