(Proposal worded for the coach of my son’s football club. He is pushing for a number of teams at the club to change leagues. A radical step, club stalwarts have to be convinced the move is worth making)
What do we want?
We want to move all teams in Rush Athletic from Under 11s down from the North Dublin Schoolboys League (NDSL) to the Dublin District Schoolboys League (DDSL)
When do we want it to happen?
We want to have each of the teams kicking off the 2016-17 season in the DDSL
Why do we want to do it?
So these kids will have more quality games each season.
How would that work?
Firstly, there are more leagues in the DDSL, and more accurate grading of teams, which means all our Rush Athletic boys would start off in a league that more accurately reflect their ability. They should also end up in leagues that further reflect their progress.
Let us use the example of Ken and Cathal’s Under-11 Premier team. For the past three seasons or so, their league has come down to their results against the big two of Corduff and East Meath.
We say competition doesn’t matter at this age, but of course it does. Boys still want to win and don’t like losing. And that’s normal. However, because the games against the Big Two, East Meath and Corduff, have become so important the boys have often been too wound up playing them, and not wound up enough playing all the other teams. And their football has sometimes suffered accordingly.
In a better graded league, everybody would be an East Meath or a Corduff, and nobody would be. It would be all about the football, as it should be.
But would this DDSL move be good for Rush Athletic?
The club is all of us: players, coaches, administrators, parents and the supporters. Some of us had the great privilege of recently watching the club’s senior team clinching their league in style, beating Mullingar 5-0 and playing lovely football, with that great club warrior Fran Byrne – co-founder of the club and still president 46 years later – running the line!
Many of our kids were watching too. The seniors of tomorrow, if they stay.
Sure success like this will attract them, but only in an abstract way, like watching their favourite Premier League or League of Ireland club, but what will keep them with Rush Athletic is the day-to-day, week-to-week experience of playing for a good club, run by good people, encouraged from the sideline by mums and dads who enjoy watching their children playing good football, with smiles on their faces.
A club that offers them positive experiences from their first joyous kick-arounds in the Academy, continuing all the way up to senior level. A club that gives them consistently good coaching, and a club that has them playing in good leagues, in the DDSL.
A club that looks after them right, and they will want to look after in turn when they hang up their boots. Where they might bring own kids and their pals to, get involved in a bit of coaching.
Playing for a good team brings its own rewards. Sure, silverware is nice, but a team that plays well together, stays well together. For a variety of reasons, our club regularly loses players to other teams, very often followed by their dads, who were often coaches.
There will be other players and coaches along, you say. Yes, but can a small club like Rush Athletic afford this constant drain of player and coaching talent? Wouldn’t it be better for us all if they all stayed? Or if staying was at least an attractive option?
A successful club is obviously more likely to keep players and coaches. More likely to plan ahead and push for the resources and facilities that are part and parcel of a good set-up. The Rush Athletic AFC we should aspire to, but also work together to make happen.
We would go further than that: a successful, well run club, will attract the new players, coaches and administrators every club needs to sustain itself, first of all, and then to prosper. Build it and they will come. Staring with the move to the Dublin District Schoolboys League.