Youth Soccer Deams

If I was a coach, I would already be in a straight jacket. It's nerve wrecking.!
If I was a coach, I would already be in a straight jacket. It’s nerve wrecking.!

Last Saturday was my son’s first U5 (Under 5 years old) soccer game. He has already had two practices, but I was not allowed to go. In the past, I morphed into Mama Bear after a bigger kid kicked my three year-old baby in the back with his cleats.

For this reason, my husband fears that my mug shot may, one day, be broadcast on the local news, so we made a deal: he will take him to the practices,  and I will go only on game days.

There were at least 1000 people coming and going at the fields. Every where I looked, it was an ocean of little blue shorts and bright green or white jerseys moving from side to side like schools of fishes. There is nothing more entertaining than seeing the soccer ball move in one direction, and 12 pairs of short legs move in the opposite. 

While walking to my son’s field, I saw a young woman at the trunk of her car holding a baby in one arm and a bottle of wine in the other. It was only 10:30 am, but probably she was singing Alan Jackson’s “It’s Five o’clock somewhere.

Since this was the first youth soccer game I attended, I figured that maybe they rotate designated drivers as well as who brings the snacks. I simply chose to drink water. We got to the field and my husband and I sat at one of the corner kicks, next to the other parents from our team.

We kept to ourselves and just listened to some of the parents give explanations about their sons’ performances even before the game started. “My son is probably not gonna do much, he hasn’t practice,” one dad said anticipating a low performance.

I wanted to said to him: “What do you expect? He is just a toddler not Maradona!

Competitiveness has been the inherent trait of Americana culture that has defined the Excellency of the USA on the world sports stage. The pursuit for greatness is a powerful way to encourage kids to do their best and work hard to improve. The problem begins when the parents love the game more that their children, and so, going to practice and games becomes Chinese torture for the little munchkins.

My husband coached ten plus years of baseball, flag football and basketball for both boys and girls. The common denominator that he always witnessed was the vicarious desire of the parents who wanted to re-live their long gone “glory days” through the lives of their kids. It seems like they jump aboard a time machine and are trying constantly to correct the mistakes of a “mini-me” version of themselves, without thinking about the consequences of the pressure on their offspring.

In general, parents today want their kids to play sports to promote a healthy and active life style. However, there is always that over the top parent that takes very seriously the “future career in sports” for his son or daughter displaying a typical case of Mr. Hyde at every match.

Look at these mind-blowing stats of the NCAA–cited by the Jacksonville, FL radio station The Hog:

More than 480,000 boys play high school baseball around the country, only 6.9% go on to play in college, and just 8.6% of those who do, get drafted by Major League Baseball teams. More than 540,000 boys play high school basketball, just 3.4% of them will play in college, and of the ones who do, only 1.2% will be drafted by the NBA. And more than a million kids play high school football. But, only 6.5% of them will play in college, and of the ones who do, only 1.6% will be drafted by the NFL.

Now, regardless of the outcome, I will cheer for my son at every soccer game as long as he wants to play and he does his best. (I am his mom not a liar!) For the moment, I will enjoy the sight of my cute four-and-half-year-old sitting on the bench with his teammates, wearing his uniform, long socks, sheen guards and cleats. I will let him follow his youth soccer dreams and I’ll try not to imagine him kissing the World Cup in 2030. Why not? Dreaming is free…

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Xiomara Spadafora

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