Choosing a club is a memorable moment for any football fan, but should it be a given that your children support the same team as you?
Football isn’t a matter of life or death, it’s so much more
There is a great quote from the Eric Cantona that says: ‘You can change your wife, your politics, your religion, but never, never can you change your favourite football team’. These words have a certain timeless wisdom to them, because for so many, football isn’t just a sport, but a passion; a way of life.
If you were lucky enough to be able to choose who you wanted to support then this philosophy probably rings true, however, this is quite rarely the case. Lots of fans are led into supporting a particular club because that is their dad’s team. If your dad supports Chelsea or Man City then this has its merits, but if he’s an ardent fan of Burton Albion, you may feel slightly hard done by!
Often, when a dad persuades his child to support the same team, it isn’t with bad motives. It represents continuing the cycle and his dad would have done exactly the same and his dad before that – some teams wouldn’t have any fans if this didn’t happen! Families support their local team and would like their children to follow suit, particularly if it’s a matter of local pride and they want to pass this passion on to the next generation. Supporting your local team can also have a sentimental purpose, because much of your family history could be based in the area and this helps your child engage with both the local community and their roots.
Dads dream of the moment they can stand side-by-side with their kids at a game and it’s difficult to relinquish that vision, especially when kids naturally want to support a team who plays more attractive football or wins the most titles. The sheer power of the Premier League behemoth is tricky to ignore.
Another issue is that over the last twenty years, so many teams have come and gone from the heady heights of English football. Leeds United are a perfect example; once one of the most recognised teams in the country but now somewhat fallen from grace – though their time will most likely come again.
Inflicting your child with the burden of watching a losing team can appear harsh, because although you are still able to bask in the glory of former days, they are mired in the relegations of here and now. Then again, staying loyal to a football team that has been through hard times can be a great life lesson to teach your children. In a strange way, it’s character building and will help them learn how to deal with disappointment from a young age.
Who are they? Exactly!
By the time you start buying them football shirts – which admittedly can be from birth for some parents – they may feel slightly embarrassed at having to don the local League 2 side’s kit, while their friends can proudly show off their Premier League tops. Of course, there’s quite a financial difference between an Arsenal top and an Accrington Stanley one, but kids have a tendency to try and fit in. A good compromise to make is have your children support your team when they are very young, but once they’re old enough and want to choose their own team, they can. As long as they don’t choose one of your rivals, there are boundaries!
Some dads will not even entertain the ‘treacherous’ idea of their kids supporting another team and there is still a good foundation for encouraging them to support their local team, it teaches loyalty and perseverance, traits that are important for anyone growing up and part and parcel of following an unsuccessful team (one that isn’t owned by a billionaire). However, if they don’t fall in love with your team as they get older, it’s probably best for them to decide for themselves. If they’re not enjoying watching, it may lead to resentment, or worse, they could start supporting a rival, which we can all agree is the worst possible outcome here!
Along with music, taste in films or political affiliation, most dads would like their children to follow in their stride, but this isn’t always going to be the case, so it’s best for them to explore their own interests and painful though it may be, find the team that suits them. Don’t worry, you still have the disappointment of supporting England to share together.