What satisfaction last night, as I helped coach my first youth soccer game. As with baseball, soccer is not about winning, first and foremost it’s about having fun. Once the smile leave the faces of your kids, the fun has been lost. That is not the case with this group of 12 boys who make up the Blazers. My voice is still recuperating after all the yells of encouragement and positioning through the 50 minute game.
While the team won’t winner any championship (who cares!) they boys laughed and smiled all game long. It was just a few minutes into the game and we were already 3-0 down, but the heads remained up and the boys played well and tried to climb back into the game. In fact, the head coach remarked this was the best the boys had played to date!
Through out the game we have many positive signs that what they are being taught is being used on the field. We had some great passes and a few strong and accurate shots, including out first goal of the season, thanks in part to my son’s best friend, Alex. For the most part, the boys were receptive to our shouts.
Even some of the lesser skilled boys put in some very solid shifts and made positive strides with and without the ball. One in particular, who has never played soccer before listened to nearly everything I said while on the field, working on his position and playing his heart out. I would have given him player of the game, if we awarded individuals. Since soccer is a TEAM sports, there was no award, but his smile was all I needed.
The coach did a good job fielding the team, mixing the talent with timid. It’s a fine line in hopes to field a team that plays well at each end of the field and together. There were some shortcomings, which will need to be worked on, such as positioning on the field. I think the concept of fractions is lost on some kids as it relates to soccer. Dividing the field into thirds in attempt to keep boys spread out has been challenging and as of last night it seems everyone wants a piece of the ball.
Playing defense was challenging and the goalkeepers were left on too many 1 v 1 situations, at a disadvantage. Many times our defender would make an initial challenge, but not follow through and before they knew it, the ball was rolling toward the goal. Teaching boys how to be aggressive shouldn’t be difficult, right? Many boys like to play rough, but that concept seems to be lost when going against another player who has the ball. Many times players would misjudge the ball and overrun the play, taking themselves out of strong defensive position and end up chasing the opposing player to the net.
Regardless of those “must improve” areas, the boys had fun. It was great to see the smiles and high fives through out the team after their first goal. The season is still young and in my opinion, like baseball, as long as the boys can take away a positive experience and learn something this year on the pitch will be successful!