It’s well documented there is little loyalty in the professional game of football. Maybe it all drifted away years ago when the big TV money started coming in and our game saw the arrival of overseas players.
Earlier this year Robbie Savage commented in his column for the Daily Mirror ‘ Fans have to get over the concept of loyalty in football – its a dying art. Anyone who thinks there is much loyalty left in football is deluded!
Of course there are players who have stayed loyal their club for many years, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs played over a combined 2000 games for their clubs and I’m sure all of them received incredible offers from other clubs, home and abroad. No doubt there are hundreds of Pro players that have stayed loyal to their club and fanbase.
We could compare our own employment to footballers – if we got offered a better job with more opportunities and more money – wouldn’t we take it – that what footballers do – take the better offer, so can we blame them for moving on if a better opportunity arises.
So taking the professionals aside, how do we feel about the youth game at grassroots level as parents, coaches and club officials. Should we expect increased loyalty at this level of the game. Should we be coaching our children the virtues of loyalty, suggesting to them to be devoted to their club and their team-mates and to value their coach and local club?
Surely its about children wanting to play with their mates, enjoying the game (win, lose or draw) and trying to become a better team together. Surely we can expect our children to start their development at Under 6 and stay with the same group till they reach secondary school when friends and peers may change.
Perhaps loyalty doesn’t exist because of the parents. If we don’t see our child play ‘first team’ football, are we too quick to take them away another club where the will get more match time. Shouldn’t we be encouraging our children to stay where they are and fight for their position, improve with the team and stick together?
Perhaps it’s the coaches responsibility – is it the win at all costs mentality that makes us seek out better players and leave out the others, giving players no option but to go elsewhere. It is natural to want to win and to play the best team but do we owe all our players game-time? Lets be honest, who hasn’t left out a player who’s been with the club for years, turns up regularly for training but when a better player turns up, we play them in preference.
Should academies/centres of excellence or ex-pros to have some responsibility. They set up centres portraying a higher level of coaching, possibly better facilities and of course as ex-pros they know the game better. Do they take players from the smaller clubs and attract friendship groups to leave with them. Where does this leave the smaller communities and village clubs. If loyalty no longer exists, will this see the demise of the smaller clubs as the bigger clubs swallow them up.
One thing we need to consider is that it may just be the children themselves; times change and as the children watch the pro’s switch from team to team, maybe its our children who don’t understand the concept of being faithful to a club and coach. If the pros can move easily between teams, why can’t they?
It’s possible we won’t see any more players like Scholes and Giggs ply their skill for the same team anymore, maybe loyalty has gone from all ages and stages of our game – I hope it hasn’t and I hope loyalty is a value still worth fighting for – time will tell.
Whats your experience of loyalty in the Grassroots game? do you think its a thing of the past and not worth worrying about anymore or do you still think it exists in the game. Is loyalty overrated in grassroots football, maybe the children and parents should be left to choose where to play – we’d love to hear your views this subject