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Watch Your Language

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Something that happened last week at Ministry of Football, a good reminder to watch the language we use with children.

A group of 5 year olds are in pairs, and learning in 1v1s. The session is looking good, and the coach is working with individual kids to help them and challenge them.

The coach helps one pair who are clearly new to 1v1s. He talks to one of them, M, and challenges him to beat his partner. M looks puzzled. He looks at his partner, then back at his coach. Eventually he shrugs, nods, and runs off onto the pitch. The coach is delighted, job done, and he moves on to the next pair.

At this stage, the Centre Manager walks in and within seconds has to break up a fight between two of the kids. M is throwing punches and kicks at another child who is doing well not to retaliate, but is clearly surprised by the sudden attack.

Manager stops the attack, asks M: “What are you doing? It’s not good to punch and kick people.”

M looks puzzled. “But Coach asked me to beat my partner!” he replies.

*          *          *

Here are some more examples of jargon we use in children’s football and possible interpretations by the children, from an excellent article by Paul Cooper.

  • "Find space" – Build a one man space rocket and travel in a vertical direction until you leave the earth’s atmosphere. (may take a while)
  • "Man on" – Sounds as if a strange man has wondered onto the pitch. Do not accept any sweets from him and find the nearest policeman. (may take a while)
  • "Hit the channel" – Nip down to Dover with a large stick and start thrashing the sea.
  • "Hold" – Grab the nearest opposition player and don’t let go.
  • "Relax" – Sun lounger + strawberry milkshake + Gameboy.
  • "Gamble" – Poker, 3 card brag, snap, old maid?
  • "Get rid of it!" – Stick your fingers down your throat and bring up your breakfast.
  • "Work" – Help mum with the dishes, dad wash the car and knuckle down in Maths.
  • "Travel" – Pack your suitcase were off to Spain!
  • "Close down" – Bring in the washing for your mum (may of misheard instruction)
  • "Do we want it?" – Oh yes, a new bike for Christmas please.
  • "Spread yourselves" – Cover yourself from head to toe in chocolate spread

Or here's a classic. Forward to 5 mins 44 secs in this You’ve Been Framed clip to watch the young lad whose Dad has something to tell him…

Mark Carter, May 2012

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