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Where has the dressing room gone?
I've played soccer all my life.
I began at 6 and stopped at 35.
It's obvious that every country has it's own reality and sometimes it's very different from place to place, but a few basic principles are the same because they're dictated by logic and good sense. So, when I came here 7 years ago, I was astonished by noticing the total absence of one of the principle things in soccer. The dressing-locker room.
Independent of their age, every soccer player in Europe arrives at the field with a sport bag in which there are soccer cleats, socks, shin guards, etc., etc. Everything but the uniform. Players, at every age, NEVER, EVER arrive at the field dressed for playing. They enter the dressing-locker room, undress and dress in the soccer uniforms they received from the coach. In this gesture there is a kind of transfer of trust and responsibility. The coach gives you something that makes you a part of something. Something important, for the town, for the fans, for the parents, for the coach and for the other players.
The dressing-locker room is a world apart. This closed space helps us in one of the hardest aspects of any sport. TRANSITION.
The transition between everyday life and the game. The transition between the game and going back to everyday life. A few months ago I read an article (sorry, I don't remember the name of the coach) in which it was said: "Once the game is finished and has been commented on by the coach and the players, the soccer game stays on the field. Allow your child to be a kid and not only a soccer player." I totally agree but this can only happen with the TRANSITION through the dressing-locker room. What is said there, no matter what it is, it stays in there. Whatever happens, between players, coaches, people responsible for the management of the team, it happens there and IT STAYS THERE.
There are practical aspects too.
After having played the game, at any age between 6 and 35, players undress, TAKE A SHOWER, dry off, and put on dry close. When they go out the door, the game is over.
People (kids) DON'T stay covered in mud and get in the car.
People (kids) DON'T stay sweaty, wearing a wet uniform all the way home getting 'frozen' from the air conditioning.
People, not only can get sick by doing this but could even be forced to give up their sport. It's wouldn't be the first time that even professional players, have to give up their careers because of pneumonia.
American friends, men and women, have told me that when they were young they always suited-up at school, took showers after sports and put their dry clothes back on. I know from what I've seen myself in different high schools, ex-showers transformed into storage space for sports goods. What happened?
Are our kids to shy to undress in front of the other kids or are there other reasons? For a false sense of decency do we want our kids to get sick? The dressing-locker room is an 'institution' that could help our kids not to grow up with 'taboos' that could negatively influence them all their lives. So please show a little good sense and go back to reality!
Posted on 30 Aug 2005 by coachgianni