A Lady in the Soccer Suit Story
While I referee in two positions, either as the Center Referee or Assistant Referee (AR), I am continually fascinated with coaching young impressionable minds, i.e., teenagers. Outstanding coaches are few and far between; they act with class and respect for every athlete on the team, no matter their overall skill level. If I have the opportunity to talk to that kind of coach after a game, I seek them out to tell them what a good job they are doing and that I noticed the kids responded wonderfully to their instruction.
The more games I referee, the more I believe that the WIN comes from not what the scoreboard says but instead from how coaches and managers handle a loss. There are lots of sore losers out there. I'm all for a good game, but it saddens the bench when coaches get ugly with verbal abuse because a player did not respond to the play on the field they are accustomed to. I see it on the players' faces each time this happens. Recently, a coach got so angry with the players that they cussed something awful toward the field, thankfully to no one in particular, and knocked over and threw a bag sitting near them. I was appalled at the behavior and glanced at the bench player's blank responses to the outburst.
It is easy for coaches to butter up to the referees when everything is going right, and they are winning or about to win the game. However, if the tables turn, though, as they often do, a team in the lead at the half could lose it in the second half—and the same to a coach (losing it!).
Those outstanding coaches that offer their congratulations to their opponents after a tough loss are one of the reasons I go back to referee week after week. I see how they provide hope and that old adage "it's only a game," as their players process a loss. They are the winners in my playbook because they are modeling behavior that most young impressionable kids and teens desperately need in our world today. It's not only about winning.
If you are this type of coach or have coached like this I applaud you! Please pat yourself on the back (and this is for every sport, not only soccer).