Learning about winning and losing the hard way

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‘Kids today are too soft’ is a refrain often heard from old duffers who hanker after the days of National Service and capital punishment.

It is one of those daft generalisations which always makes me smile, largely because it is not true as, sadly, many 21st Century British youngsters grow up too quickly and, if anything, are too tough for their own good.

Parents battle hard to protect the innocence of their charges but often we are fighting a losing battle against the digital curtain which wraps itself around our young. I believed in Father Christmas until I was 10 and thought the Krankies were a normal family. Kids are more savvy than we were in the 1980s which is why we try too hard to wrap them in cotton wool.

But I also believe there are times where only the truth will do. Of course there are some pretences worth maintaining, including the one that the ‘f word’ is fondue, but when it comes to the important stuff, children need exposing to the truth from an early age.

Which is why I can’t understand the current fuss being made about publishing results of junior football matches. The issue reared its head after Surrey FA advised local journalists about the guidelines which discourage the media from publishing scores from matches involving children under the age of 11.

Apparently it is ‘detrimental to their development’ if people other than their parents know about their 6-0 drubbing. The result isn’t important apparently.

In my first season as a schoolboy footballer, I was a serial loser and a proud member of the worst team in the North of England in 1985/6. During that year we lost every one of our games. My highlights 
included the goal I scored, which came at the end of a 17-1 defeat.

Rather than put me off football, that season saw me become hooked and when we won our first match ever, the experience was so monumental that it is something which lives with me nearly 30 years later.

If you are to become an elite athlete then you have to adopt a winning-is-everything mentality and learning to hate defeat is one way to go about it.

Protect our young by all means but there are some things they have to find out the hard way.