Coaches – raising winners – on and off the pitch
I’m a true believer that it takes a village to raise a child and the rugby pitch is an important place in the village of my world.
Week-in, week-out, rain, wind, or snow I watch the coaches giving their all to our children. They volunteer their time, invest their hearts and their passion, and give their everything to bring out the best in the individual players. What the coaches deliver goes way beyond rugby, and has a lasting impact off the pitch.
My children have always been blessed with great coaches on their rugby journey. As a parent, it’s gratifying and inspiring to reflect on the sacrifice the coaches make for players to develop and grow throughout the season, and in their rugby life.
From the day we started our rugby journey I could see how prominent a coach was in a player’s life. It had always been important to me to have others to add value and look out for my children…and this has certainly been made possible with our rugby community.
In the early years I would see my (then) five-year-old son fumble around playing tag rugby, looking expectantly for his coach’s approval and guidance. I now see the same players – some of them taller than their coaches – still carrying the same reverence for the very coaches who raised them to be players.
Coaches gain the respect of players not just by being a good coach technically, but leading by example. While they are friendly and can have a laugh, they’re not afraid to put their foot down and tell the team when they’ve done something wrong. A coach certainly pushes the team to do its best—for the win, and encourages a culture of discipline and respect by being tough yet fair. Parents tend to work for the best of their own child, while coaches know that the entire team is a reflection of the club, and work for the whole. There are numerous small victories for a coach who nurtures a player’s individual progress. And that progress becomes a wholesome win for the player, the coach, and the team.
A coach’s work is invaluable, because without them, there would be no team. More than anyone, they believe in rugby and strive for players to adopt the same values. I’m always touched when I see how the coaches defend and support the team, particularly in times of difficulty. I’ve seen our coaches tell ‘shouty’ spectators to ‘pipe down’. And if kids start to lose their spirit due to a loss (or numerous losses), it’s the coaches who give their all to reassure them and pull them back up.
Despite having their own jobs and families, coaches are usually the first to get to the club and thanklessly sacrifice their weekends and holidays to support their team. They get to know each player in ways that no-one else will. They identify a player’s strengths, highlight areas they can improve, and will flag any concerns. I’ve always found it easy to speak to my children’s coaches about their progress and things that might be bothering them. We’ve discussed behaviour, food and nutrition, school, fitness and friendship. My son’s coach even expressed concern about my son’s eyesight which prompted me to get him seen at the opticians!
The drive and hunger for success isn’t limited to winning matches. A coach not only develops a team of players, but also cultivates the next generation. I was recently on tour having a chat with my son’s head coach when he casually motioned towards a group of coaches nearby, pointing out those he had trained over the years. A good coach raises good players, who in turn become good coaches, strengthening a club’s foundations.
This afternoon, my son’s team played their final Minis game, and walked away with the win. But the real victory is in gratitude for our coaches; the realisation that the game is because of them. A massive thank you to all of the coaches out there who are leading, nurturing, training young rugby players all over the country.
Nima Suchak (A rugby mum)