PARENTS! YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING! This sign is posted on the fence outside of a little league baseball field somewhere in our great country. The Federal Government should require that this sign or a sign like it be posted on, around, in front of, behind, on top of every athletic field that our young children play on. We wonder why some of our children have behavior issues, poor attitudes or are un-coachable. If you can stomach it then go and spend a weekend watching the parents at a youth athletic event. You will find the answers you are searching for.
This past weekend, April 13 – 14 South Carolina Youth Soccer, along with hosting club Sumter Soccer Club, conducted a very successful Palmetto Academy Cup and Kohl’s Recreational Cup Tournament which included over 100 teams from across the state. The tournament is solely for our U9 through U12 age groups. As the Director of Coaching for South Carolina, my primary purpose at this event is to hand out the awards to the age group champions and finalists. Are there Champions in these age groups? This question will be explored in a future blog along with other youth soccer issues.
While waiting to pass out the awards to the young conquering heroes, I get to walk around, anonymously, and watch our young aspiring players. These children are doing something that they enjoy and that is playing the game of soccer. Unfortunately, what usually catches my eye is not the technical speed in which a player manipulates the ball or the eye of the needle pass that is received in full stride or the thunderous shot that bulges the back of the net. Don’t get me wrong those are all present and all plant a gleaming smile on my face. What caught my eye is the behavior or lack thereof from the parents that are watching. PARENTS! YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING!
Now before you get too upset, I understand that the majority of parents are not like this and you are to be commended for your unwavering support and positive enthusiasm. My favorite is the mom or dad that heads and kicks the ball with own child prior to the game. Unfortunately there are always one or two malcontents on the sideline that just crush the atmosphere. Yes I understand that we all get caught up in the emotion of the moment and that we only want the very best for our children.
An example of the emotion that is transmitted to those young soccer players on that 65 x 55 yard patch of grass was one father kicking his portable chair no fewer than 5 times during the 1st half of a U9 game. A second example were two parents at a U10 game giving a volunteer field marshal from Sumter Soccer Club an earful about the terrible officiating that was taking place. Several parents during a U9 game were yelling at the opposing coach that her players were too rough and were touching their players too much. Last time I checked soccer is a contact sport. My favorite complaint was about the terrible field conditions that the players were forced to play on during a U9 game which did not allow the ball to bounce off the ground at all. Coincidently, this was the best U9 game that I have watched in a very long time. The players adapted well and were very skillful in their use of the ball and should have been commended for that. I think the parents weren’t able to comprehend that an actual game of soccer was taking place in front of them as the ball stayed on the ground and was used intelligently by these young players. The parents were confused, perplexed even as they were not able to yell “BOOT IT” as much as they usually did. It is disappointing for the parents, they were too busy complaining about the field, something out of their control, that they missed their children overcoming some adversity.
PARENTS! YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING! As parents we want to be proud of our children in their success on and off the soccer field. We also want to see how our children deal with failure both on and off the field as well. Athleticism, sportsmanship, diligence and compassion for others are a few of the character traits South Carolina Youth Soccer tries to instill in our players. Be sure to remember that during soccer games. Our children are watching us and learning. Let’s make sure that as adults and parents, our actions and emotions on the sidelines during THEIR soccer games make THEM proud.
Please feel free to email me with comments, questions or suggestions for the blog. Gvallee@scysa.org