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Residents Association MagazinearrowWinter 2002 - 14

FITNESS AND FOOTBALL

We read a lot in the national media about the relative fitness of our children. Often it is quoted that levels of obesity are rising and that all of us delight too much in fast food and not enough exercise. Whilst all of these comments I am sure have some importance and relevance in today's society, I am not sure they add much value to the game of football? Let me explain why.

Yes, it is true to say that fitness is an extremely welcome by-product from the game of football. However it is important to emphasise that the priority in coaching the game, especially young players, from the ages 6-14, is the development of skills and techniques, not fitness.

Being fit will not make a player but it will make a player better. Being fit to cope with the demands of football at all levels should help players to: maintain an appropriate level of skill; recover from exercise more quickly; reduce the risk of injuries; and minimise fatigue.

Good levels of fitness reflects the personal commitment of each player It is their dedication that contributes directly to their own performance and that of the team. Physical preparation should be built around skill development and game related activities. It should not include high intensity activity or weight training. We are all minded to ensure that young players are not damaged by undue stress related training. Not withstanding that it has very little proven impact on the playing abilities of the child.

Warming up before any exercise still forms the starting point of any training exercise; we now ensure that the warm-up reflects the activity following. Traditional stretching has been replaced with more of a dynamic approach, that relates to the game itself. Emphasis on getting ready for the activity is key. Warming up muscles and increasing the blood to the key muscles. Similarly cooling down after a game is where the player is encouraged to stretch off tired muscles whilst at the same time reducing a players heart beat. Stretching muscles helps reduce the build up of lactic acids which occur naturally in the body as a by-product speed up recovery for the next activity.

Regardless of the sport, the body responds to exercise in particular ways. Each person's ability to cope is different. With young players it is important to remember that younger players have less energy to expend. As a result gradual increases in activity allow the body to adapt. Without an increase in demand general fitness is unlikely to improve. Fitness training can be tedious and boring and for the most part all of us struggle, with that initial kick start, adults especially. Keeping the kids attention and enthusiasm throughout is essential if it isn't fun forget it. The nice thing about the game is that there is a budding David Beckham just waiting to materialise, now there's a thought!

At Broadstone FC we hold regular training sessions for all ages, on most Saturday mornings you will be able to see our boys and girls turning up for training. The parents of these children have an active interest in the well being and future development of their child. Broadstone FC plays a very instrumental part in that physical development and well being. I would like to think we have a fair cross section of children who attend who in turn represent the community at large. From my own vantage point we have a great bunch of kids who are mad for football. Broadstone FC helps satisfy that demand.

These children reflect all our hopes and ambitions and I for one feel we have much to celebrate and much to be proud of. Sport is an important learning medium and as we all know an active child is a happy child.

Sven Brunt

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