When I did my FA coaching course a couple of years ago, the course leader was an experienced coach called Bill Prendergast. A couple of us got talking to him about the end of season presentation evenings that junior football clubs do. Bill was horrified that these events are held in pubs and clubs with alcohol consumed avidly. I was also concerned that our event at Marple was taking too long with 9 age groups and hundreds of bored parents hovering at the bar creating a hum of background noise. "Ask the kids what they want," suggested Bill. Well, we did, but they just want their evening of glory, really, and you can't ask an 8 year old an open question. We put an online poll on the website which came down to a choice between 'just each age group', 'a single function', or 'two events - one for the "youths" (10-14) and one for the "juniors" (7-10)'. They went for the latter option.
We've done it all now. The older kids had an awards at Hawk Green Cricket Club last weekend. And last night we held the juniors event in Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Marple. Rachel sorted out some pop for the thirsty kids (and adults). Both were all done in an hour. Everyone went home happy.
There's a report out at the moment from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that draws a link between seeing parents drinking and how teenagers go on to behave. There are a lot of important issues running around here, but I'm very much coming around to the view that just as you wouldn't expect to get drunk at a school play it isn't too much to put off that Friday night livener for another hour.