Many elite sporting structures are based around the notion of uniformity, conformity and compliance. What we as spectators and fans appreciate and celebrate about sport is, variety, creativity and the joy and emotion it brings. I have seen and heard many traditional academies referring to themselves as talent factories where they claim to mass produce talent. However like all mass production lines they have interchangeable parts. In this case the interchangeable parts are children.
A sporting club or organisation is a great resource to society. It has the potential to facilitate positive learning experiences both on and off the pitch. Its young members go through a bio-psycho-social development in a sporting context. This is a non-linear process. Learning is non-linear. Talent is non-linear. These young people live out some very fragile, tender and complex years that can also be their most fun and joy filled days. Traditions can and should be challenged. Values, attitudes and behaviour along with joy and passion can amplify throughout the club and echo in to the future. Their future!
Let us not forget that these children are individuals that form teams in clubs that are part of a community. How we deal with this is essential.
Don’t start with a pack of crayons and finish up with a blue pen.