Kids Must Learn How To Lose… FA’s Ban On Publishing Results Is Damaging

Football chiefs in the UK have upset fans after banning youth football clubs from sending match reports to their local newspapers. The Football Association reckons youngsters whose teams lose would be even more demoralised to see it in print. Officials claim publishing “one-sided scorelines can act as a disincentive to continue playing for many children”.

My first reaction after hearing about this was that it was a joke. Apparently they want matches in the UK (up to under-11 age level) to be less results-orientated and more child- centred to spare the feelings of kids on the wrong end of a heavy defeat.

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What nonsense, I just don’t get it. One of the main lessons of growing up is learning how to win and how to lose, and how to act accordingly with each outcome. I’ve hated losing all my life. Despite only having a modest amateur career, It has always made me thoroughly miserable to lose but that didn’t mean I expected the local paper to omit the result because it might offend my sensibilities. Losing is character-building and seeing the result in print made me all the more determined to make sure it didn’t happen again. It drives you on to improve your performance. I refuse to believe it does you any harm, whether the result is in the newspaper or not. It’s not as if the reports of kids’ games take the mickey out of the losers. No one ever says the under-11s goalie had a nightmare if they lose 9-0. They always say he had a great game despite the score. As a former goalkeeper, trust me when I say that can still give a youngster a boost even though he or she has let in a bucketful.

What is the matter with us? Where is the harm with championing our winners whatever age they are just because of this irrational fear one of the losers might get upset.

A metaphorical kick in the nuts?

I bet the vast majority of kids who play sport would take it on the chin and go back out and play with their pals again without giving it another thought. Can’t we take the rough with the smooth? How on Earth are we expected to breed winners in any sport with that attitude? It’s the attitudes of some parents to winning and losing that is the problem, not the players. Winning and losing is a fact of sport.

I’m sorry if people don’t like it but that is the bottom line and winners are what we want in this British sport.

I played competitive sport because I loved it but winning was what made it special and I wanted to see the result in lights as much when I was a child as when I was an adult. At every age, I would fight to the end for victory in whatever sport I was playing be it rugby, cricket or football. And if there was a cup involved — all the better. And I never felt sorry for the losers. Not once. That winning mentality is what can often divide sportsmen of equal ability, and they help develop that by embracing a pathological hatred of defeat.

If you don’t experience the feeling of losing when you are a kid, you will find it even harder to deal with as an adult but you won’t appreciate the fantastic emotional high of winning either because, put simply, it just won’t matter as much. I have a lot of time for the Football Association in their efforts to improve grassroots football and playing techniques up and down the UK but this initiative is misguided.

We all love competition. Successful TV shows such as X Factor, The Great British Bake Off, even I’m A Celebrity, are all based on competition. People cheer in their living rooms when acts get knocked out of X Factor or stars get booted out of the jungle. It’s all part of the fun. It is being said that a “win at all costs mentality stifles development”. Which sportsmen and women did it stifle exactly? There are huge issues that do need to be addressed with children’s sport, most notably the cost, accessibility and standard of available pitches. But in an effort to be child-friendly, the Football Association has scored an own goal.

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