A couple evenings a week for the next month or so, my kids will be lacing up their cleats, donning their shin guards, and walking down to the field so conveniently located at the end of our street. It’s summer soccer time!
I’ve never been one for athletics, but I love giving my children opportunities to try out sports because I would love for them to grow up more physically active than I did. A group in our city has created the best opportunity for children to try out soccer in a relaxed environment, with a commitment to only a short period, and best of all, for a very low cost. Two evenings a week for five weeks, children will be grouped mostly by age, but with flexibility to move up according to experience/ability for some fun, informal soccer games.
The goals are the small-sided ones, and no goalies are played. The coaches are volunteer parents, who get some guidance from the folks who run the program, and the emphasis is on skill instruction and practice.
Watching my daughter in the youngest group of six and seven year olds, I see lots of smiles and laughing among the players. It’s not rare to see a clump of kids all running toward the ball at the same time, of course, but the coach is trying to get them to begin to understand the different parts of the field where they can be to get ready for passes. They stop for “water breaks” frequently, which might be more about stopping for a minute or two than any real consumption of liquids, but they are only first graders after all.
My son’s group is a bit different; with seventh, eighth, and ninth graders on the field, the tone is definitely more serious. There are a variety of skill levels represented, though, and so far it appears to be working okay. Everyone looks just to be having a good time, and that fits for my son. A good amount of physical activity in the evening is also making for some pretty tired kids, too, which is never a bad thing at bedtime.
The only downside I can see is that my kids don’t play on the same nights, leaving us at the soccer field on four consecutive weeknights. But, it’s kind of nice to spend some time watching the kids do something they enjoy, and in summer, the time always feels more relaxed anyway. Four more weeks to go!