First Experiences of Swindon Town Football in the Community

Ron Smith’s 3-year old daughter has attended her first ‘tiny tots’ football session run by Swindon Town Football in the Community (STFiTC). Here’s what both of them made of their first experience of STFiTC…

In the summer I purchased a Junior Reds season ticket for my daughter. This wasn’t in the expectation she would be attending every week, as like every other 3-year old her concentration is at a minimum and my patience needs a rest. However as it turned out she quickly caught the football bug…

In fact, it was the Sheffield United game that captured her interest. I had moved seats for the game to be closer to friends, who have a fantastic view of the Town End box from the Arkells Stand. This meant she actually had time to be briefed ‘it’s a penalty’, concentrate and then watch her first goal fly into the back of the net – as Michael Smith’s 55th minute penalty gave Town the lead. There and then she understood the concept; and it soon dawned upon her why on the several other games she had attended I occasionally jumped up and threw her into the air. The fact that Town then duly scored another three that game was the icing on the cake as she joined in the celebrations.

I had been thinking about taking her to a tiny tots football course for a little while now. The restraint has always been that the under-3’s courses operate in the week, which is when I’m working but I wanted to take her. So I finally decided to give STFiTC a call to see what was available and a few days later we were at the Link Centre bright-and-early on Saturday morning at 8.30 on her first football session.

The 3-4 years old tiny tots sessions are headed by Andy Ealey with three other coaches tasked with teaching around 16-20 children (and keeping order). The session lasts 45 minutes and starts with a quick welcome with the kids sat on a parachute before moving onto some basic warm-up, then ball control exercises, before a final 4-a-side game. The session is neatly divided into three 15-minute sessions with two quick runs to the watching mums and dads for a drink break. If the kids need a bit of one-on-one help there’s always a coach to give advice and encouragement.

As for Amélie’s reaction that first morning, she was understandably reluctant in this new environment to let go of my hand. So I joined in, holding onto her hand during the warm up and close ball skills. She, like me, just wanted to punt the ball, and she did.

After then refusing to wear the blue training bib, the kids were separated into four groups for some dribbling before shooting towards the goal. This was somewhat more familiar to her, being what we’ve done in the garden, so she wanted to wear the bib, let go of my hand and eventually after one goal, I left her with the coach and sat down with the other parents.

It was only then I realised that Amélie was the only girl taking part in that coaching session. Perhaps this says more about the attitudes of parents towards fulfilling sporting gender stereotypes, which are reinforced in society and sadly perpetuated by retailers (such as H&M’s ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ branded sportswear). I was certainly never dissuaded by STFiTC in booking her on the course, or considered the coaches were less involved in her development than the boys.

As for Amélie’s reaction at the end of her first course…“can I can come back next week daddy?” Says it all doesn’t it…

And when we did return the following Saturday, I couldn’t believe my ears when she said…“I’m going to show those boys my skills…”  That second week she didn’t just show off her skills to the boys, as another girl arrived in her Swindon Town football kit. Hopefully we’ll see a few more girls join the session when the new 2015 sessions start in January…

General sales for new STFC Football in the Community 2015 Development Centre courses launched 1st December – please see the new STFiTC booking website for more details…



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