Friday, September 18, 2009


On Watching Five-Year-Olds Play Soccer

Watching five-year-olds play soccer is good for the soul.

The Girl has spent the last several years watching her older brother play sports. She has played some in the backyard with us, but hasn't had teams of her own until now.

You wouldn't know it.

This past weekend, she had her first games.

Admittedly, she and her teammates haven't quite worked out some of the kinks yet. Other than the goalie, they don't really play 'positions' as they're usually understood. Instead, they cluster around the ball, moving en masse like a swarm of bees. Teammates steal the ball from each other, passing is entirely accidental, and every so often some kid will simply stand still while the ball rolls right past him.

That said, she has the 'competition' concept down pat. Right before what my American mind calls the kickoff, as she stood directly opposite her counterpart on the other team, she raised her hands to her head, made claw shapes, and growled at the poor kid. Loudly.

The kid didn't react, but TW and I were in stitches.

She cut quite a figure in her shinguards, soccer socks, cleats, and bouncing ponytail. The total effect was somewhere between Strawberry Shortcake and a bouncer. It said "yes, I'm cute, now get the &*(*^%!@ out of my way." Which, now that I think about it, is a pretty good way to go through life.

No more mere cheering from the sidelines. TG is in the game.

TG's claws-and-growl bit is not hard to imagine. She's sweet as can be, but yeah, that's in there too. Heh.
We love watching the cluster technique and then listening to intense parents yell things like "play defense!" from the sidelines. Tee hee!

A blurb from my post on my 5-year-old's first game "However, if you have seen the movie Kicking and Screaming, you can picture the scenario: the other team was like Robert DeNiro’s team (passing deftly and shooting on goal) and our team was like Will Ferrell’s team (running in random directions and kicking balls either straight at each other or out of bounds). I think the final score was a thousand to zero."
At least it sounds better than Philosopher soccer or whatever Monty Python called it :)

I used to love watching my much younger cousins play, because the match would be totally going and all of a sudden a little kid would start doing a cartwheel in the middle of the field. There's just a joy there.
As I did, you should consider becoming an assistant coach before your (presumed) lack of knowledge becomes a hindrance. We all learned that the key concept in 5-7-year-old soccer coaching is to periodically scream, "spread out!" during a game. That, and convincing everyone that only the goalie gets to use her hands. Think about it.
I used to referee those games. My favorite story was the time a cluster formed, the ball was kicked, and it hit someone's arm on the way out. I wasn't going to blow the whistle, because I couldn't tell who it had it.

Suddenly, all of them stopped. One girl walked over to me and said "I hit the ball with my arm." At that point, I blew it up. I assure you, I never saw that when the boys were playing!
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