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help! A divided U14 girls team. Tips to bring them together?

hi allAs per the title, I've got some girls aged 11-14, basically made up from two different clubs.We're playing 7 a side and have a squad of 12.One club dominates in terms of numbers (75% of the squad) and although they are not doing anything 'wrong' at all, the 9 players are accustomed to their own company and there's a bit of a divide that has emerged.I can't understand why the players aren't just getting on with things but I'm getting some reactionary behaviour from some players, because of this 2 camp scenario.Any tips?Thanks,Gary

Hi Gary,

It's difficult when merging players from two teams together, especially when one group is maybe not used to having other players in their group. Maybe sit down with your players and explain what you want from them and how you want them to behave with one another. If they want the same goals as you, then they should knuckle down on the pitch to play as a team, and that's a point you need to stress, that to win they'll need to work together and not against one another.

Another thing you can do away from the pitch is to organise team outings - one example could be going for a team meal or taking part in an activity such as go-karting. Doing something like this can see your players getting to know each other more away from the pitch, and therefore perform well as a team on it. One reason my ladies football team is successful is that we're all very good friends and have a great team spirit, and we organise a lot of team outings.

I hope that helps, good luck!

Hi Camilla

Really appreciate your advice.

I take your point about common goals and that makes perfect, rational adult sense. Unfortunately, on one occasion, I had the audacity to ask for one player from one of the clubs (they'd segregated during training into their two separate groups) to make up numbers in a team composed of players from the other club. The players I asked (from my own club too) literally ran away from me. My adult brain can't process that kind of ludicrous behaviour.

The team meal is a good idea and we did that, with a modest level of success. Sadly, only around a third of the group went along to it but there was some crossover between clubs and everyone was fine off the pitch. Unfortunately those who i most wanted to bring together didn't attend.

In truth, I'd put this nonsense to one side because all the active resistance was coming from the players who seemingly were being the most unprofessional at training and my time is needed on the majority, not the minority. Also, as said previously, my brain can't comprehend such petty behaviour. I think part of the learning curve is that I should have got the parents involved earlier about this. Trouble is, I don't like to escalate stuff unless I absolutely have to. I need to earn the trust of junior players and to be able to deal with them without exercising the threat of parental involvement. You live and learn though, I guess.




Hi Gary 

i tried this one of my teams thats around the same age group who were divided and wouldnt talk it may work it may not but try and take them out of the sport for example when we were at training one night told them to take the warm up and once it was done i gave them 2 rugby balls made them move about and talk to one another i told them they werent allowed to pass the ball to their freinds by the time i had set up their sesson for the night they were all talking and mixing with each other.



My previous club was quite small and we often had to merge teams with other small clubs so we could field teams. It was normal for there to be some resistance to playing with a new crowd and most of the resistance I found came from parents who were upset that the training night was changed, or that the uniform wasn't what they wanted, or some other rubbish that got in their head. The kids would all put in once you explained that great teams are made from within, built up by builders playing in the team, people who lift others to help them achieve, and not by people who look for reasons that the team should fail. I found that pretty early on the kids would come around and once they did, and the parents got over themselves, the teams would do fine together.

I also use our 3-2-1's at the end of the game to get kids to think about the sort of behaviours we are wanting from our team mates. Before voting each game I would remind them that votes should go to the player that embodies the core values of the team (energy, effort, enthusiasm and teamwork) and that works towards being the best team mate, not just to the person they think is the best player or who got to see the most ball.

I hope you can find a solution that works for you

hi Camila, Caitlin & Mick

Sorry for the huge delay in replying. The competition my team featured in was run in June/early July and we actually ended up by winning gold (which was some consolation for what I'd had to put up with). Obviously afterwards, I didn't have the problem to deal and was grateful to actually be able to forget about coaching for a while.


I've not got much to add to my previous reply, which pretty much summed up the situation. The parents of the kids who were most affected by the non-integration did try to help and positively encourage their kids to integrate more, which was reassuring (that I had their support). Taking positive action regarding the integration really needed to have come earlier though, which is my fault.


It's all a learning curve really. I guess I must count myself lucky I've not had to deal with this kind of problem before and I think I'll just have to give consideration to mixing any future groups from the start, so they are forced to integrate. Tbh, it's something I could do without, when I'm trying to focus on assessing & nuturing individuals (I had something like 15-18 kids at the sessions, so I really did have my hands full) and the team, but it's clearly a necessity for the end goal of producing the best results from the squad I have.


Thanks for all the tips too.



All the best,



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