A provocative news letter!
I come from another soccer planet, so different than American soccer.
When I was a kid, everything was divided in two. What I liked to do and what I was told to do. The first was fun, the second much less.
Every time I read something about youth soccer, I constantly see the words "have fun", "make it fun", "let the kids have fun", hundreds and hundreds of times and almost never do I see the word "discipline".
Let me explain how soccer works on the planet I come from.
Millions of kids play soccer and HAVE A LOT OF FUN, on the beach, in the park, in the street, in the back yard on any surface: sand, dirt, grass, stone, concrete or asphalt. They HAVE FUN, because playing soccer IS FUN, without anyone telling them how. It's genetic for kids to have fun and they know exactly how to do it.
A percentage of these millions of kids (a few hundred thousand), because they are really good soccer players, like to have MORE FUN by joining a soccer team.
A soccer team, in a modern society, is an institution that was invented more than a century ago and, generally, a soccer team already has a name, a location, a group of supporters and it's there that the kids who like to 'have more fun' go to play soccer.
In these soccer clubs there's a try-out every year. Hundreds participate. A few enter and have 'more fun' and others go back to the beach, park, etc., etc. to continue having the same fun that they had before. In that planet where I come from, we don't invent thousands of teams every year to permit our children to 'pretend' to be soccer players! There are already thousands of teams (clubs, schools, universities) in which the soccer players go to play and have fun.
The distinction between playing in the park or on the beach and playing for an official team, simply doesn't exist in this country. Why don't we bring them to the park or to the beach and let them have pickup games with neighborhood kids or just kick around a ball, without interfering with corrections or limitations that only bore them? We can't force kids to have what we think is fun. How can they have fun if we constantly tell them: stop, pass, trap, back, kick, or worst of all 'good try honey', 'try again honey'?
Let the children have fun for as much time as they like and, when the passion of playing soccer grows in them, when they ask, bring them to a team that should already have been there for the last few decades and let them have a try-out to enter. If they make it, good, if not they can go back to the park and continue to have fun.
When they make it, only at that moment introduce them to the fantastic 9 step training that let's them become real soccer players. Maybe through this mechanism, they'll understand that sometimes we have fun and sometimes we need discipline in order to have more fun. Sports have to prepare them to affront life and, in the sport of life, it's not exactly just about having fun! For now, let them have fun, without trying to force them to have it.
Posted on 21 Jul 2005 by coachgianni