Meet: Fran Alonso
Role: Everton FC First team Assistant Coach
Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?
Youth modules 1,2 and 3, Coaching disabled footballers,FA Level 1 and 2, UEFA B and UEFA A in progress. And a NVQ in team Leading
Football coaching for over 15 years last 6 in the Premier League, before Academy and grassroots level.
At the moment my involvement with teams is as follows:
- Everton FC First team Assistant Coach (full time job)
- Everton Ladies Coach (volunteering)
- Southampton Women’s FC Technical Director (volunteering)
- Runcorn Linnets FC Youth Technical Director (volunteering).
On top of that, I deliver sessions with a few Ladies teams in the area most of them for Woolton Ladies.
How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports environment?
Parents play a very important role within youth football. I think parents,teachers and coaches are the biggest influence in children’s learning and therefore a key part of their development.
Parents should be responsible for implementing a good set of values in the youngters that are going to be the guideline for their kids. Football wise parents should be supportive, encourage good behaviours and effors and not only ability, some parents have a negative football influence over their children or team mates, by putting to much pressure on them, shouting from the sideline, providing tactical advise without the appropriate knowledge etc.
So parents involvement it is very important but undertanding where are their limits.
What are the benefits of embracing parental involvement within youth sports?
As I said earlier parents are key in their children’s learning and development therefore it is important that they get involved.
If a good value, good behaviors stablished by the coach is reinforced by the parents and viceversa, the message will have double strength and would be eaisier for the children to adquire it. That’s why is key that parents and coaches are always in the same page, children shouldn’t have crossed messages.
A good youth coach should first make sure the parents understand perfectly the values to be implemented, the standards required, and the team goals in terms of player development and football adeherence.
How have you as a coach/club attempted to increase parental involvement?
Yes I have, in grassroots football the training hours are between 1-3 a week which is not ideal, to maximise the learning experience from the children I used to set homework (technical and ball manipulation exercises) that was delivered by each kid’s parents, it was a great experience because not only increased the children’s hours on the ball, but increased the parents enthusiasm for the team and as a result the enthusaiam of the children also increased.
Also we normally try to get parents involved in the club’s set up, in any role that they are confortable to do, even it is as assistant coaches to help feed/collect the balls and keep the intensity during the session.
I have also set up private youtube channels to upload the footage from training and matches, sometime tactical reviews or maybe just a highlights from a PL game that I wanted the kids to review, obviously this was always done through the parents and some of them were learning as the same time than their kids.
Last season we were imposed at Southampton Women’s U-16’s a silent sideline match and it was in my opinion a completely non sense, coaches unable to adjust tactically, parents and coaches unable to encourage good behaviours or actions, that’s in my opinion, nothing to do with the game and hopefully I will never experience something like that again.
What challenges have you faced by attempting to increase the level of parental involvement?
Some parents do not offer support or are unable to do so in a constructive manner, due to lack of interest or lack of knowledge. Some others are over-involved and put too much pressure on their child.
This is a challenge because in one hand you want to increase the parental involvement and on the other hand you only want the involvement that is benefitial for the children.
Have you seen a difference in youth athletes when parental involvement is embraced not neglected and/or ignored?
When setting up the homework and youtube channel for players I could see more level of enjoyment from both parents and children so I saw a positive little difference.
On the other teams were parents got involved in the Club’s set up I did not see much difference in terms of levels of anxiety or enjoyment.
What advice would you give coaches that are unsure about increasing parental involvement within youth sports?
I would say to get the parents to help you coaching your players when you are not there, it could be reinforcing values and behaviours, could be parents and kids watching together some video analysis or parents helping the kids to do the homework you put for them.
This will maximise the learning hours of the players, help in their development and therefore make us better coaches, because we shouldn’t forget is not about us coaches it is about them players.
For those parents unaware of their influential role, what advice would you give parents?
A crucial part of successful parental involvement is allowing children to enhance their identity as a part of the family providing balance to their identity as a top athlete.
It is about pushing your child whilst pulling back from being ‘pushy’. It is the coach’s job to offer the technical/tactical advice while the parents’ job is to supply the financial, travel and emotional support.
So I would say to parents that are a key part of their children’s development and learning, but also that when attending games to stick to the role as a parent, be encouraging, supportive but resist any temptation to compare him/her to team-mates.
What is next for you as a coach / club / organisation?
I have several goals for all the diferent Clubs Im involved with, from getting into Europa League with Everton FC to stablishing a Club Philosophy at Runcorn Linnets.
You can find more about Fran on these social media outlets:
LinkedIn: Fran Alonso
Thank you Fran for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.
The Sporting Influencer