There is something special about driving into a cold and empty football field, the smell of the grass after a light shower, watching parents drive in and drop off their child to training, but it’s when the groundsman turns on the lights for the 7:00pm training session where the night truly begins.
Rydalmere Park, in Sydney’s West plays host to National Premier League (NPL) 2 side Rydalmere Lions and Australasian Soccer Academy training sessions.
Tuesday night opened with the hustle and bustle of parents driving down the gravel filled entrance of the field. As a number of car doors slammed shut out came young boys who grabbed their big Umbro bags, said goodbye to their parents and it was time to say hello to the their teammates.
Watching the interaction of the young boys greet each other only reiterated the closeness of this under 14 side. Leaving my car, walking towards the grey fence I leaned over from afar and began listening to the conversations being held:
“Real Madrid will win the Champions League bro” one side and the other, “Ronaldo is the best, top goal scorer in Europe!.”
It was comments like those that sparked debates in good humour between a group of boys to then laughing them off and joining the others as rockets of shots were being belted in goals.
As Head Coach Tony Basha arrived his troops rallied behind him and the session began. Tony began to set up the first drill with cones placed across the park, organising the boys at each point, getting boys to settle is always a tough feat but this is football and the boys were ready to play.
Tony Basha, head coach of the Australasian Soccer Academy expects the best out of his boys whether it be with his youngest squad or his first grade who he said at times behave like 15-year-old boys but it’s here in training where skills are constantly being finessed with Tony looking over their shoulders.
I was able to pull Tony Basha aside for a matter of minutes in between a busy night however, the scoop I wanted was not on football but the lessons that are being learnt from football and the pressure our young boys face.
The basic role of a coach has changed over the years. So, what is the basic role of a coach today?
It’s mainly teaching the kids about football and respect. Teaching them the basics of the game. You also have to teach them life skills as well. Life skills are very important in regards to the kids growing up. Their our future so we need to, on their journey teach them it’s not all about football. You need to be ready for life.
What life lessons can they get out from playing football?
Team work, being in an environment, mixing with players, different players, different nationalities and meeting new people from different walks of life and becoming better people at the end of the day. Playing football is something that everyone should be doing, it’s a good sport, you make a lot of friends on the way.
Do you feel a certain responsibility with the lives of young boys today?
You know everyone wants that fairy tale ending, everyone looks up to the big boys. The big boys in my opinion have the responsibility to show aspiring boys how to act and how to be. That’s why football is important as when you do play you become a better person at home and a more respectful person.
Do young boys have more pressure on their shoulders today to make it professional?
Yes. There is a lot of pressure for players to make it. I think it’s the parents fault. A lot of the parents think their boy is the next Messi but at the end of the day if a player is going to make it he’ll make it on his own terms. I think the parent has nothing to do with it. But a parent can get the kid to give up the game. Some parents put a lot of pressure and think their coaches and they have no idea. Parents need to stick to doing the basics you know: driving their kid to training, games, watch him play and be their number one support system because if the kid wants to make it, he’ll make it.
Football is our beautiful game that with or without the ball our young kids are learning life lessons on the way. Tony Basha believes kids today are our future so it is fitting to let the ball roll and teach our kids the difficulties of life, how others are less fortunate, to be grateful and to be, simply put, a good person on the field and at home.