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How to Nurture the Young Footballer in Your Child

Last week I was at my friend Sameer’s place, watching the FIFA world cup with him and his 12 year old son, Arjun. While we were enjoying the match, I couldn’t help but notice Arjun’s knowledge about football. In fact, when this 12 year old threw a few stats at me, it made me doubt my claims of being a hardcore soccer fan.

Impressed with his football knowledge, later when the match got over, I wanted to see how Arjun faired with the ball. So we decided to go downstairs to their society’s football turf. Believe me, the way this young lad tackled the ball was far more impressive than the soccer knowledge he displayed during the match. All this made me wonder if Arjun was one of a kind, or are all kids, these days, that talented?

Anyway, I turned to Sameer and asked him how he planned to nurture Arjun’s talent. Not to my surprise, Sameer was clueless. He said he did realize that his son is extraordinary, but wasn’t sure if soccer could help Arjun build a career. Besides that, he was also unsure of what exactly he must do to help Arjun build a career in soccer, in case Arjun really wants to.

Is your child a budding footballer, too?

Well, Sameer is not the only parent who is unsure of how soccer can help their child build a successful career. There are many like him. And then there are some parents who would like to let their children pursue their passion for football, but have no clue about the process they must follow to help their children become a professional soccer player.

If you too have a budding footballer at home, catch the early signs in your child with Aviva’s Kidoscope and help your child pursue this passion. This test will tell you about skill sets and character strengths that your kid has and then can help you nurture his/her talent for them to achieve excellence.

Here’s how what you can nurture the footballer in your child.

Research about the process of becoming a professional footballer

Educate yourself by reading about the journey of professional football players, especially Indian footballers. Read about the likes of BaichungBhutia, Sunil Chhetri, the legendary Peter Thangaraj and many more like them. Reading about them will not just give you an idea of the process they went through for becoming a professional footballer, but the stories of their struggle will also inspire you to support your child and never give up on their dreams. Besides this it’s also advisable to talk to several coaches to find out the different paths to becoming a professional footballer.

Send your child to short term soccer camps to fine-tune their talent

To begin with, start sending your child for short-term soccer camp for specialized training. A soccer camp will not just help your child to discover their strengths and work on their weaknesses, it’s also the best place to get noticed by coaches/ mentors. But before you send your child for a soccer camp make sure you know two things.

1. Who is going to coach your child?

2.  What would the coach be teaching?

Expose your child to different coaches

Well, some might say that this would be too confusing for a child who is trying to learn the fundamentals of the game. But do you know that younger children are far more adaptive than the older ones. A young footballer is more likely to learn different playing styles than an older guy. It is, therefore, advisable to expose your child to different coaches who can train them about different playing styles.  Exposing your child to different coaches, will help them grow into a well-rounded player who is not just restricted to a particular playing style.

Send your child to a residential soccer academy

During the last few decades, there has been a rise in the number of residential soccer academies that work towards realizing the dream of aspiring footballers in the country. These academies provide young footballers the right guidance to hone their skills, and make a career in this field. Some of the top soccer academies in India are - BhaichungBhutia Football Academy (BBFS), Tata Football Academy (TFA), Premier Indian Football Academy (PIFA),  and Kolkata Football Academy (KFA).

Don’t let your child’s education take a backseat

It’s important to strike the right balance between your child’s education and their football training. Make sure your child’s education doesn’t suffer because of their football training. When enrolling them in an academy, make sure you choose an academy that places equal emphasis on education and football training. Making the right academy choice is important because it will help you ensure that your child grows into a responsible young adult.

Discover your child’s true potential at an early age

As a parent, you have a very important role to play in terms of helping your child discover their true potential. By doing so, you will not just help them make a smarter career choice at a later stage of their life, but most what’s most important is that it will help your child grow into a confident individual. So, the sooner you start working towards it, the better results you will get.

AN Jun 84/18

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