To do this effectively takes time as we have to consistently deliver positive messages and embed a positive ethos within a club. Other than seeing short-term enthusiasm it can be difficult to gauge whether or not the positive messages we deliver will have a long-term, lasting impact.
Whilst evaluations have evidenced that our programmes are having a positive effect and starting to show signs of attitudinal change, we need time for this to take effect and really create the culture change we desire.
It can be difficult to work hard on programmes knowing that the full benefits may not be seen for another 10-15 years, and so when we have a workshop like we did for Celtic FC last month it fills me with pride to know that the work we are doing with them (and many other clubs) is having a real impact, not only on developing young players, but also developing young people.
Attending the Celtic workshop (delivered by staff of Celtic) we had the players and parents of the under 13 age group, along with some invited guests invited by ourselves. We’ve been working with Celtic over the last four years and so many of the players already understand the messages of PCS through attending workshops or out on the training pitch via their coaches. Despite being confident that the players would engage well with the workshop, on the night, however, I was blown away by their attitudes and engagement.
To hear 13 year old players talking eloquently about having a growth mindset and explaining the effort required to reach their full potential was proof (if ever it was needed) that the PCS programme was moving past short-term impact and becoming embedded within their thinking.
The ‘show-stopper’ came when one of the players explained to the audience what had happened in a match the day before. The young player had received the ball in the middle of the pitch and made his way towards the opponents’ goal, a few yards inside the penalty box he was tackled by a defender and fell to the ground – the referee immediately awarded a penalty. Whilst his teammates were preparing for the penalty kick, the young player dusted himself down and made his way over to the referee explaining that he had simply tripped up and that it was NOT a penalty! The referee subsequently reversed the decision and play resumed.
Perhaps of more significance was that the young player’s teammates were proud of his honesty, with the majority stating they would have done the same. I, for one, hope that the young player continues with his dedication to football and perhaps becomes a top player in the future, however if not, I am confident that the lessons he (and his teammates) are learning through football will lead to him being successful in life.
I started this blog explaining that it can be hard working on a programme with long term aims, however when we start to see real examples of the difference it can make, the immense satisfaction outweighs the hard work!