Meet: Martin Longworth
Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?
Martin Longworth, 25
Cardiff Met FC First Team Assistant Coach & Academy Director, Sports Coaching Doctoral Student
FAW/UEFA A Youth Licence
How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports environment?
Parents play a pivotal role in the youth sports environment! Most importantly because they hold the responsibility to ensure the child can attend training/games, wear the correct kit, and at times, payment of fees. Without the aforementioned responsibilities the child could not partake in sport.
What are the benefits of embracing parental involvement within youth sports?
Every parent has their son/daughters best interest at heart. Even though at times this can be portrayed in a problematic and destructive manner, it is our responsibility to educate them on how to be an effective and an integral member of the club/academy. Providing a parent with a behavioral or expectation pack when their child joins can give them an opportunity to help not just their child be the best they can be, but also aid in the smooth running of the team/club.
How have you as a coach/club attempted to increase parental involvement?
We have embarrassed a few technological instruments within the past twelve months, but the most influential has been the introduction of ‘TeamApp’. This allows parents to see upcoming fixtures, months in advance and they can select if their child is available/unavailable, which helps the coach with squad selection. There is also an open forum where parents/guardians can chat about issues which we have found has been a good exercise, particularly as we are in our infancy as a WPL Academy. While we did not want to take away the face-to-face interactions and fundamental relationships between coaches and parents we felt this would allow them to help in the proactive nature of planning and scheduling.
What challenges have you faced by attempting to increase the level of parental involvement?
Parents are inevitably going to want to provide their child with information, be that before, during or after performances. Managing their, at times, ‘inappropriate’ ways to relay information was something that has taken us a few months to iron out. I do want them to feel part of their child’s development but this can be in their development as a person, leave the sporting and technological feedback to the people who hold the necessary role within the sports settings. By shouting technical or even tactical ‘advice’ on to the pitch will almost certainly contradict that of the coach/team and will also make the child feel pressured and potentially apprehensive when playing.
Have you seen a difference in youth athletes when parental involvement is embraced not neglected and/or ignored?
We have seen a significant impact in the past few months, specifically, the interaction among parents on the side-lines. They spend less time ‘shouting’ on to the pitch, allow the coach to ‘do their job’ and it has endorsed for a more fruitful learning environment. The term learning being key here as they parents now accept that it is our responsibility to aid in the sport specific understanding and development of their child. I also feel that the children themselves are enjoying the environment more, it does help that the performances and individual/team development has significantly increased over the season but nonetheless, it has been a pleasure to work at the Academy since Christmas.
What advice would you give coaches that are unsure about increasing parental involvement within youth sports?
Embrace don’t neglect! Parents play a huge role in the development of their child and this should not stop when they play sport. The way in which they relay this responsibility is something which needs to be addressed.
For those parents unaware of their influential role, what advice would you give parents?
In a similar response to the last question, embrace responsibility don’t neglect it. Channel the responsibility into a way which can have a positive effect on your child’s development in sports. Asking questions is not a burden, I want parental involvement and I will help in any way necessary to help promote a fruitful learning environment.
What is next for you as a coach /club /organization?
I took over as the Academy Director of Welsh Premier League side Cardiff Met FC in September 2016 with a three-year plan. I feel, after 9 months, that there has been significant changes which have had a purposeful impact, specifically, this has been from a structural and personal perspective. In the forthcoming season, I intend to help foster a sustainable development program to help children reach their potential, while ultimately enjoying the process. My personal journey will be to complete my doctoral research in the summer and begin the next staged of my career as an academic in higher education, alongside my coaching practitioner responsibilities.
Thank you for Martin taking the time to complete the following interview questions.
You can find more about Martin on these social media outlets:
Twitter: Martin Longworth
LinkedIn: Martin Longworth
The Sporting Influencer