Youth soccer in the US. The constant and harmful misunderstanding.
All kids have the right to enjoy playing soccer.
They can do that in backyards, in parks, in schools or on the beaches. To have fun, they donít need to be divided into two teams with different jerseys. They can wear the jerseys of their favorite soccer players. They donít need soccer cleats. They can play with tennis shoes or even bare feet. They donít need chalk lines to define the field. They choose some reference point and that will be the border of the field. They donít need a coach who would only bother them. They are there to have fun in a pick-up game. So they donít need a referee, either.
The constant and harmful misunderstanding comes with US ADULTS who believe that, to have fun, they need Leagues, Standings, Championships, Play offs, Tournaments, Referees, Coaches, and on and on.
Up to now Iíve referred to kids that like to have fun in playing soccer. They are not SOCCER PLAYERS just because they have fun by kicking the ball around. They just have fun. Like every kid in the world, playing on the grass, on the concrete, on the asphalt, on the dirt or on the sand.
So, to be clear, Iíll repeat. THEY ARE NOT SOCCER PLAYERS. They just have fun in playing soccer, like everyone of us that IS NOT A PAINTER, just because we like to paint, or a WRITER just because we like to write, or a VIOLINIST just because we like to play the violin, or a RACE CAR DRIVER, just because all of us drive a car!
Fifty percent of the drivers are unable to even park the car in a small space, so they canít even think about racing on a race track. All the people that paint, wouldnít even think about having an art show. Every person that likes to write doesn't think about writing a book and selling it. Everyone that likes to play the violin canít go on the stage and give a concert, and the beauty of this, is that WE KNOW IT perfectly well!
For the same reason, every kid that likes to play soccer, CANíT ENTER ONTO A SOCCER TEAM AND ACT AS A SOCCER PLAYER, just because they like to kick the ball around.
REAL SOCCER PLAYERS of any age, boys or girls, play soccer on an organized team.
All the other kids, continue to have fun in the backyards, beaches, parks or schools and they will not be frustrated in doing this because itís enormously fun. They will even go as spectators to see a REAL soccer game, played by REAL SOCCER PLAYERS of their own age.
The harmful misunderstanding begins with the parents. They will be frustrated if their boys or girls didnít pass a try-out for a REAL soccer team.
This is the REAL problem and what is the solution that they find?
Instead of letting their kids have fun in pick-up games, they begin to invent soccer teams that donít have ANY REASON to exist. And those teams will compete against other teams that donít have ANY REASON to exist, too.
Leagues of fourth, fifth level, will be created to allow youth boys and girls, who are clearly not interested in doing that, who will never be able to pass or trap the ball acceptably because they are not SOCCER PLAYERS, to play in an organized way, only because their parents NEED to not be frustrated.
Here begins the frustration of the kids, who, instead of having fun, like the fun in the pick-up games, have to pretend to act like a soccer players with coaches, referees and parents that push them from the border line to do something that they are not able to do.
Imagine yourself on the stage, in front of hundreds people, making terrible noise with your violin. Imagine being in the middle of a race track, where cars pass you from the left and right, while you are almost unable to go straight. Imagine having your paintings, that are nothing more than a crust of dried colors, in an exposition with other REAL painters. Imagine your book, tenses all wrong, without any real style that captures the attention of the readers.
If you wouldnít like to be in these embarrassing situations, way do you keep putting your sons and daughters into the same nightmare?
They will hate to play, because they are NOT SOCCER PLAYERS, but only a bunch of kids who have the right to have just fun, like every other kid in the world.
Please, stop creating teams that donít have any reason to exist.
Instead, if youíd like for them to play soccer, have fun with your sons and daughters by playing with them. Invite other kids at their skill level and bring them to the park or to the beach and have fun with them. You can be the keeper! Can you imagine the satisfaction of scoring a goal on their dads? You can creat mixed teams of parents and kids, giving yourself a handicap like using only your weak foot or no more than one touch. All of you will have a lot of fun, surely more than embarrassing them on the field. And when they have understood how to manage themselves, let them play until they like it.
They will go back to playing spontaneously, everyday, in whatever grassy area or other surface, with friend that lives close to them. It is time to see around the houses, some more soccer goals and not only baskets in top of every garage door.
When and if, it seems that your kids have a chance to compete, just ask them if theyíd like to participate in some try-outs with hundreds of kids to enter onto a restricted number of REAL SOCCER TEAMS, where REAL SOCCER PLAYERS can learn to become better soccer players, with licensed coaches and not parents who never played soccer in their lives. With all do respect for their efforts, they can even destroy the chance of a real soccer player to succeed in his or her soccer career, at school, high school, college and university, and with a little luck, maybe at a professional level. (Even though everybody knows that I donít agree with the fact that talented players play at colleges and universities.)
You could be sure that, if your kids didnít pass the try out, like all the other kids that didnít pass, they will be happier kids, just to be able to go back to the park and have a pick-up game, instead of being embarrassed on a soccer field, with cleats, jerseys and, at the end of these artificial seasons invented by parents, have a medal, a diploma or a trophy to put in their room as a REAL SOCCER PLAYER.
If you keep pushing your kids in water to deep for them and you hold them with your hand and convince them that they are swimming for real, sooner or later they will believe this, because mom and dad say itĎs true.
Can you imagine what will happen in real life, in the future, when you arenít there anymore to hold them and they are convinced that they can swim by themselves?
If something bad happens, it will only be your fault not theirs. They canít know that theyíre just pretending to be able to swim!
Posted on 30 Mar 2006 by coachgianni