The purpose of this article is to bring some light on issues that often
would go obscure or go unnoticed among the millions of possible situations
that could occur within a league. My situation is not uncommon at all, and
my only hope is that somewhere out there my experience would be avoided or
prevented from happening to other people.
Here is my story: I have two boys, ages 12 and 8. When my oldest was
got him involved in soccer, and found myself getting involved as well. It
was brand new and exciting.
He was placed on an U8 team and I became the coach of that team. As
time went by I became more involved in the league. And found myself doing
more and more, including volunteering up to 25-30 hours a week and giving out
of my own pocket to fulfill the needs.
While I was a member of the board and an active official I saw many
From people who would join the league for personal benefits and kickbacks to
officials who would only show up to activities once a month.
While I was fully involved, I would always try to find ways to save the
league money, and sacrifice an extra hour or two doing research to find ways
to raise funds or sponsors for the league. I am sure that this sounds
normal to many of you. It was to me!
As time went by, I began to experience burn-out from everything I was
to the point that taking the kids to practice was a big sacrifice. Needless
to say I went through a very difficult period of time.
Last year (2000) I signed up my children as usual. However, because of
financial difficulties, my check bounced. I spoke to the president of the
league and the treasurer. They understood the situation, apparently?
I got laid off from my job and catching up with my bills became virtually
impossible. Yes, I love the league and soccer. But just the mere fact to get
funds to buy a gallon of milk became a huge task. As cruel as it may sound,
the league became unimportant.
On March 3, 2001 there was registration for the coming season. Needless
to say, I didn't have the funds, to pay the registration fees. My kids came
home asking me, 'Why their friends had registered on that day and I had not
taken them to be registered?'
I told to them that dad did not have any money, they understood?
However, I knew in my heart that they were not satisfied with my answer. At
that particular time in my life I felt like a failure. Then I remember what
someone once told me: -"A child should never be turned away from playing a
sport, due to lack of money!" In fact the league had a scholarship fund.
That's when I decided to set my pride aside and ask for help. I went to
league's website and got the email address of the board of directors. And
proceeded to sent them a letter to explain my situation.
Days later I received an email from one of the members of the board,
saying to come on over to the second registration on March 10. To bring $10.
for each child (insurance) along with pictures and birth certificates. The
tone was very humane and
kind. So I decided to go with my kids.
When I got there, it was a different story. There was a "look" on
almost all of
the directors faces. The treasurer shook my hand out of pure basic
but he would not look me in the eye. Others just said "hi" and immediately
walked away. They gave me the run-around and acted as if they had never known
me before. They even said things out loud like: "Is this the guy who is
financial assistance?" This was said loud enough so all the people present
waiting in line to be register could hear.
But that's not all, once I finally got to the table where the individual
who had invited me to come. He told me to 'go to the side' and proceeded to
give me a long lecture. Then, he handed me 150 tickets and told me to sell
them and return the money to the league. He told me he "trusted me." He was
polite, but he treated me as if I was a rebel without a cause. He kept
saying, 'I'm putting my face for you.' The whole time I kept asking myself
if it was really necessary to be ridiculed in this fashion just for the sake
of letting my kids play.
All the while he was shaking my hand and searching my eyes and telling me
that he trusted me. I felt like running away and saying forget it, my kids
simply will have to skip this season. But, I had already endured all the
humiliation and ridicule in the
world. Now I know what they mean when they write: "Life is a humbling
I have no intentions of trying to make these people understand their
I'm sure they don't even realize the personal damage they have committed.
They actually had a meeting to discuss my situation. I was told that some of
the members objected to giving me their support. It is too bad that I did not
realize that any of this could happen in my own community.
My intentions for writing this letter are: I would like to make the
youth soccer community aware of what they are doing to families who can no
longer afford to play this sport. I would like for them to look into
themselves and ask themselves who are they working for? Is it their own
children? Their own egos? Their own bellies? Or ALL the children in their
I have seen many examples of genuine leaders and their leadership. If it
wasn't for them, there would not be any hope for the future. Help those
adults who can't afford this sport and you might be helping some children who
truly loves this game!