Your Letters & Pictures

Don't take away their freedom

(Coach Karl Dewazien, recently published one of my letters in his website

Dear Koach Karl,
Thanks a lot for all the different opinions you've published that help me to face a reality so deeply different than European soccer.

I read the article "Pick-Up Soccer" by Coach Anonymous and because you encourage feedback, I'll say something.

Coach A. apparently sustains the concept of giving the game back to the players by letting them play free pick-up games. When he talks about a program from his Youth Soccer Club, he says: "the program is 7 to 9 weeks long and the players should show up and play WITHOUT interference from us adults". This is very good and I applaud it.

In the article he said: "structuring free play".

How can you structure something that should be free?
It's simply a contradiction in terms.

Coach A: "Teams are made by handing out training vests as they check in".
Teams are made? Do we call this 'without' adult interference'?

Coach A: "The kids play about 3 twenty minute games in the day".
I repeat, do we call this 'without' adult interference?

Coach A: " the players are sometimes switched during the game to try and make the team as fair as possible".
I don't believe this! How can he say that they play without interference from us adults if we come to the point of stopping a game and switching players?

Coach A: "Parents would sometimes help point some uneven teams out, but the monitor did the changes".
Parents? Parents help point out? Parents shouldn't even be there and if they are there they should stay so far away it would be like they weren't there. In any case, they should NEVER, EVER, be authorized to interfere in the management of a game, in particular if it's a free pick-up game.

What has happened to the statement 'without interference from us adults'?
In a situation in which kids are not allowed to choose when, where, how much time and with who, how is it possible that an Highly Licensed coach calls this a free pick-up game?

I'm horrified at the idea of what could happen, when the 'free play' is taken away and this coach takes charge of the team and begins to tell the kids what they have to do.

I don't want to appear too critical, but the least I can say is that there is something deeply wrong with American soccer.

How can we be surprised if kids give up soccer at the age of 14?

They don't give up the soccer camp, they only escape from the prison camp!

In my opinion, the FUNdamental principle of a pick-up game, any sport, is spontaneity. Everything about where, when and who plays with who, has to be absolutely determined by the kids. To be more clear, in their free time kids go to a recreational area by themselves (or accompanied by the parents with one parent in charge of watching without interfering), socializing with other kids and, if they want to, they can play a pick-up game.

They decide who plays with whom.
They decide how big the field will be.
They decide how long they play, by simply getting tired or bored or thirsty or wanting to go home. Even if someone goes home, others arrive and the game keeps going.
They make arrangements if one team is too strong and they can decide to play 4 strong vs 8 less strong.
They make their own rules.

If we take away spontaneity they will never learn to interact and find solutions by themselves.

It's simply ridiculous to take away freedom in order to make them free.


Coach Gianni

Posted on 03 Aug 2005 by coachgianni
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