Off-seasons aren’t just hard on the players. Across the country, millions of parents are gearing up for the next iteration of their child’s football competition. FMF spent last week following one parent, 40 year old Nikolas Kilkenny, as he completed what is arguably the toughest part of any parent’s pre-season preparation: deciding which disappointments and failures will be used as fuel to push his 9 year old son Douglas to even greater heights.

“Last season I channelled my unsatisfactory career and slowing metabolism when encouraging Douglas on the park. While there were signs that my sideline motivation was lifting his performance, there is always room for improvement, so this season I’m going to work in my failing marriage and unsightly toenail infection as well.

Nikolas said the Internet makes it a lot easier for other sporting dads to network and brainstorm techniques. “I just returned from a conference in Geelong with thousands of other parents looking to get the most out of their unresolved issues. It’s great to know that you will always be supported by a network of your peers.”

While the amateur seasons are still months away, Nikolas said he’s briefed his family on what they can expect to see from him this season.

“I want to make sure there is no confusion heading into the season. Douglas needs to be able to trust that his dad will be on the sidelines right along side him, in his face once the whistle blows, and undermining him in the car on the way home. Anything less is just bad parenting.”