One of the first things us Gmax coaches learned was that it is imperative to form relationships with primary schools, local ones and beyond. This has all been with the forethought, once we began delivering sessions, to instruct, identify talent or passion, and eventually begin inviting children down to our academy for their talent to be nurtured. Here I tell of my experience the day I went into a school to coach for the first time.
As I walked down the school’s street towards the entrance, all I heard was bellows of instruction and order. It was one of my colleague coaches who soon came into sight as I peered through the school’s black gates, readying myself. They were already established at this Primary, had become acquainted with staff, children, and was now running a session in the playground, clearly exercising their authority with aplomb.
I thought to myself “ I have no intention of being that stern or strict”. This, my mental approach, was encouraged almost as soon as I began. I was introduced as “coach Simon” and had to join a race relay team. I teasingly exclaimed “I don’t want to be with losers, I want winners. Who are the winners?”. Every single group of child adorably appealed to me that they were winners. I was persuaded by the most eager.
As I lived those first moments , moments of my first responsibility as the predominant figure of authority for a child where there wasn’t a superior to affirm my judgment, it dawned on me the naivety of my underestimations. “Do you want to come to Adamsrill school with us?” read the text message sent to me that morning. “Fuck yes, it means I won’t have to go to the office meeting” was my reaction.
What I didn’t think about was how much these little ones would brighten my day. How quickly time would fly by as I remained in the company of the purest hearted. How much pleasure it would give me for them to obey what I’d said, have them enjoy a game I’d devised or to hold their focus.
My delight at the sight of the happiness on the children’s faces as they attempted the simple and infantile games maintained throughout the session. Meanwhile my colleagues, whilst focused and professional, didn’t seem as enchanted as I was. ‘Perhaps with experience comes less and less endearment’, I wondered. Yeah that’s probably it.
After all, I am an only child with zero nieces or nephews. I feel like I haven’t had the attention of a child for years where all the young attention I received was from my child friends but at the time I did not appreciate the uncynical, bright outlook we had or our gentle feelings because I was only a child myself! Neither I nor them could properly realise at the time, how blissfully unaware we were that we were our brightest, most in-the-moment selves.