I recently refereed a U-l0 youth soccer game for my league and was amazed at what transpired. There were nine players on each side and the kids were having fun. One team was up 6-0. According to my game card, two goals were scored each by two different youth soccer players with the other two goals scored by two separate players. The coaches of the winning youth soccer team actively moved players from front to back and vice versa. Forty-seven minutes into the game, the assistant coach on the losing team strode onto the field announcing "I'm pulling my players." When I asked why she stated "unsporting behavior."
For some reason, in my league at least, an unreasonably strong emphasis has been placed on "not running up the score" and the "win/win situation." I don't believe in this.
While I wholeheartedly agree that the win at all cost, kill or be killed, abuses the youth soccer players to get the coach his win mentality has no place in ANY youth sport we have to be realistic. Someone has to win and someone has to lose. THIS IS SPORTS, DEAL WITH IT!
What incentive is there for youth soccer coaches to increase their skill level and knowledge of the game, thus making them more effective coaches, if they know that by whining they can get the other team to roll on their backs like turtles and give up?
Further, what incentive is there for strong teams or individuals to grow if they are constantly told to "hold back"?
Soccer is a SPORT and that means someone wins and someone loses simple as that. Little Johnny and Susie will never learn the realities of life if we tell them that they don't have to strive to succeed because we can make the other guys roll over and give them a break. We are not helping our children with these actions; in fact we are setting them up for a major fall. WHEN was the last time life or your boss rolled over and gave YOU a break? Why on earth would we want our children to have such a skewed sense of reality?
It is the adults that have the big problem with the score of the game, not the kids. Heck, they just want to play and have fun. The kids are out for the FUN OF THE GAME and if parents and coaches would stop worrying so much about the score, the fun and happiness will return to the wonderful sport of soccer.
In case you're wondering, no, I am not one of those Golden coaches who has a winning team year after year. I have had winning teams and losing teams. This year happens to be a team that has had their hind ends kicked repeatedly. Rather than whine, they go out and play the best game they can' and rather than ask for breaks, it is my policy to specifically ask stronger teams NOT to give us one. How else can my team better themselves?
My 'losing" team recently received a letter from an opposing league, I will reproduce part of this for you... "I understand they lost the game, but in my eyes they came away the winners in more than one way. They proved to have superior sportsmanship during this game, and when leaving their portion of the field was left clean and they also took down both goal nets. That coach and his players deserve a big pat on the back!"
There you have it folks, as long as youth soccer is a sport of winning or losing with grace, dignity, respect, and Sportsmanship, there are NEVER any real losers.
Ted R. Andrews,
-'D' licensed coach
-USSF Level 8 Referee
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