Meet: Helen Lorraine Nkwocha
From: London, England, UK
Role(s) : Founder of Immersed In The Game & Soccer Coach
Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?
I am 39 years old, I am a former Police Officer of 15 years in London. I have coached for 6 years paid and unpaid. I have coached full-time for the last 2 years. My experience includes development coaching centred around working with male and female players aged from youth to adult within grassroots / community clubs and professional organisations. I am awaiting assessment for the UEFA A License and I have achieved the English FA Youth Module 3.
How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports environment?
The parent’s role depends on the age of the youth player. The younger the youth player, the more likely that the player should be encouraged to focus on enjoyment and participation. In my opinion, the parent should support the player in developing independence from them and a healthy relationship with themselves, their sport and coach. To clarify, in my opinion, the parent should act as a ‘listening ear’, especially within the player’s home life, so that the player feels that they can speak with them if and when needed, they should support a healthy lifestyle with food and sleep and emotional well-being. And, in developing independence, the parent should encourage the player to develop and maintain a working relationship with their coach and the rest of their sports environment.
What are the benefits of embracing parental involvement within youth sports?
In my opinion, the benefits relate to consistency. If it is important to the youth player that their sport participation is endorsed by their parents, then this involvement is of high value.
How have you as a coach/club attempted to increase parental involvement?
I have held one to one meetings with the player and parent with a view to involving the parent, in terms of their understanding my coaching style and plans. This has included sitting with the parents and a tactics board, watching videos and asking the player to explain areas of our work to the parent.
What challenges have you faced by attempting to increase the level of parental involvement?
The main challenge has been that this is time consuming, as I have been working with several teams at a time and in an effort to be seen as being fair, each player and parent received the same treatment. But, this caused a time constraint, influencing quality of my work.
Have you seen a difference in youth athletes when parental involvement is embraced not neglected and/or ignored?
With one player, I had embraced parental involvement, being receptive to their enquiries and opinions. However, this, increased parental involvement resulted in the player not listening to medical advice given during rehabilitation. The parents argued that the player should be playing and participating in more game time, whilst the advice I was following was from the club physiotherapist. This resulted in the player developing a negative attitude towards the club and protocol.
What advice would you give coaches that are unsure and/or afraid about increasing parental involvement within youth sports?
I would advice them to ask the question, ‘why?’ So, why are they looking to increase parental involvement or why not? For example, if they are answering honestly, it shouldn’t be because they want to gain popularity with the player and the family.
For those parents unaware of their influential role within youth sports, what advice would you give them?
I would advise them to put themselves in the place of the player. If they can make efforts to understand what the player needs to feel valued and if they can influence this, then they should. However, the parent should consider what this influential role looks like. Too much influence probably contradicts the desired outcome.
What is next for you as a coach / club / organisation?
Achieve a higher qualification as a coach. I have just joined a new organisation and so my aim would be to show a consistent understanding of this new culture and expectation, with a view to becoming a key influence on the decision making and delivery of the organisation message.
You can find more about Helen on these social media outlets:
Thank you Helen for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.
The Sporting Influencer