When I started doing research and field work before founding the Forza India academy, I was intrigued by what I saw off the pitch. While a session was going on, I saw a host of parents sitting at the dug out with qualities contrasting to both ends of the spectrum. The first type of parent typically after dropping off their child, would detach themselves from the environment of football and wander off in their mobile phones. The other type, would pay close attention to the training session; typically to their own ward and coach from outside the pitch. Often a child would hear the dual voices of the coach and parent totally adding unnecessary pressure.
Hence, we at Forza India decided to take a vow to crackdown on this. To be completely honest, we did not go at it right away but we decided to take action after several weeks of planning. We really wanted the parents to look up to the football coaching sessions as much as their kids did at the start of the week. We wanted them to feel the same enthusiasm and drive. All in all, we wanted to them to be part of the community and get them to volunteer. The act of volunteering, especially at grassroots level is the main reason football grows in any country. I have witnessed this across my travels to North America, Europe and South East Asia. The lack of volunteering in amateur sports in India is severely lacking but there is a glimmer of hope that I have seen in the new age parent. The new age parent wants to contribute,but obviously does not know how to do so since it was barely existent when they grew up. So it is up to us, to get them involved in a positive manner.
Firstly, minimum use of electronics and zero interference to the coaching process was established as the rule of the land. We have managed to have a couple of parents-teachers meetings to get valuable feedback and open a two way communication street. My phone has always been open to receiving calls and text messages from parents at any given point of time over any issue. In return, the parents have been brilliant volunteers. For our league games or practice matches, they have helped in logistics, refreshments and maintaining order. They have been cheerleaders, physios and water boys on call! Remarkably, the camaraderie between the parents and kids increased after we had a fun session that saw two teams of parents pitted against two team of kids on a bank holiday. The feedback is to get the parents more on the pitch playing football than keeping them off it!
The effort goes on in creating an ecosystem that can only prosper football at the grassroots. I can only hope that we can sustain and build on the enthusiasm and passion that has seen kids take up football as their choice of sport. The synergy between a grassroots academy and a parent is vital for overall growth and development. Also, we just want to carry on what we have started so that football becomes a part of everyone’s culture. #ForzaIndia