If you haven’t guessed it, the GAA is king in our house. I love it. Daddy Chambers loves it. Aidan loves it and Sarah is getting there. I’m totally chuffed that Aidan is passionate about playing football. I want sport to play a huge part in the kids’ lives. I want them to enjoy it but to enjoy it I firmly believe kids have to be decent at it.
Now before you describe me as the pushy parent type, just let me explain. I played basketball in school as a kid. I so dearly wanted to be good it but I was rubbish at it. After a while I gave it up because I had no confidence. I didn’t have the required skills and my head went down when I played with and against kids who were good at it. With the value of hindsight I know I should have tried harder and practiced more but I was a child, I didn’t have the maturity.
First and foremost I want Aidan to enjoy playing sport, namely GAA with his current club Moorefield and whatever club he may play with in the future. Indeed he does, he loves heading up to Mini Moores’ training every Saturday. Each week I can see him improving, I can see him learning new skills and as a result he is building his confidence.
A couple of weeks ago a man by the name of Barry Anderson got in touch with me. He stumbled across this blog and noticed that my child played football. Barry is the founder of Spot on Sports and the SpotOn Football. In short it’s a size four Gaelic football that is marked out for kids. It teaches children where to put their hands and where to kick to execute a kick pass and a hand pass properly. It sounds so simple and that’s because it is simple but it wasn’t until Aidan tried it out that I fully realised just how genius a product it is. Yes, I received the product for free, but hand over heart, I am genuinely hugely impressed by it. And you wouldn’t beleive just how much it has helped him in the last few weeks.
The first evening he got his hands on it, he was out the back door with the ball under his arm in a flash. I didn’t need to explain to him how to use it. The illustrations on the ball make it super easy for any child to understand. As I watched him out the window I could see him carefully placing his hands on the hand markers and then making sure he connected his foot with the part marked for kicking. He did it over and over against the back wall until he turned his attention to the hand pass element of the ball.
Later that evening he showed the ball to his friends in the estate and they got in on the act too. They all seemed to love it. Indeed now if there’s an estate game of football going on on the green, Aidan is always asked to bring his special ball down to use for the game.
There’s a few of the SpotOn Footballs floating around Mini Moores training every Saturday but for the most part the Under 6s use a regular size 4 football. What I noticed is the huge improvement in Aidan in training with the normal ball and I firmly believe it’s because he was using the SpotOn Football so regularly at home. He is 100 per cent more confident in small sided games at training, he’s scoring goals and points and because he is more confident in his own game, he is definitely enjoying it more. Now I’m not for one second saying that the ball is the only reason he’s improving, he can also thank his fantastic mentors for that, but it has definitely helped him.
It’s three weeks since we were first introduced to the SpotOn football so I’d like to think Aidan has had ample time to test it out properly. As a result here are my exact thoughts on it as an adult and as a parent. The ball is just perfect for his age; he’s five and as mentioned above, is playing with the under 6 group, which is the youngest group most GAA clubs have on board. Kids don’t often take in verbal instructions especially if there’s a gang of them having the craic. The ball takes this issue out of the equation altogether. The markings on the ball mean that they can simply just see it, which is a big thing for a kid that age. The ball speaks for itself if you get me. It also builds a child’s hand/eye coordination, which is what it’s designed to do. Even now when playing with a different ball I notice Aidan is way better at kicking and hand passing naturally. Most importantly for me this ball has improved his self esteem, which I hope and think will keep him interested in playing the game going forward.
Another thing I love about this ball is that it’s made and owned by a local man/business here in Kildare. Isn’t it great to support Irish? I think so anyway. Barry, who is also a coach, is hoping to have the ball in every single GAA club across the country soon and having seen a child use it I think it should be. The Association itself should be giving the SpotOn Football their backing in my humble opinion.
So if you, like me, have a child starting out on their Gaelic Football journey, I highly recommend you try out this simple yet genius ball and I don’t say that lightly. It’s great value at €12.99 and you can buy it here.
Barry has very kindly offered me one of the SpotOn Footballs as a prize for a competition. So keep an eye out on my Facebook page over the coming days for that.