I’ve coached the U6 kids for a while and had a LOT of fun doing it. We had a great sponsor (our local McDonalds), great parents, and had developed a reputation as a tenacious team who played hard, even at such a young level. I had four assistant coaches back when our U6 teams were way too big (12-14 kids a team). I came into U6 with no coaching experience and tried to learn as much as I could while simultaneously trying to teach the kids the basics of soccer. I had a great group of kids assigned to me and as they moved up with my son, we developed a core group of parents and kids who moved up into U8 and formed a new team that has also done well (U8 All-State lost the Championship match 2-1 after finishing the season in 4th place but having an excellent time in the end of season tournament) I was an assistant coach for the U8 team which was coached by 3 of my assistant coaches who moved up from the U6 team. We had a lot of fun and I hope we taught the kids something as they moved through our teams.
So with my oldest son approaching 8 years old (how time flies!), we knew he would be moving up with a few teammates and we weren’t sure where he would end up. I had had a LOT of fun in U6, but the excitement of the matches in the older divisions was infectious. While I’m not a soccer expert by any stretch of imagination, I’m learning and I figured maybe it was time to move up with my son and try coaching at a higher level. OK OK – in reality the soccer mom’s
forced me talked me into it Kidding!
We got a great group of kids. My son moved up with a couple of his teammates from the U8 All-State team, and one players grandfather agreed to help coach (he played in England for a time) We’ve practiced hard for weeks and it if our first match is any indication – well we’re not doing too bad.
They played hard and I thought did very well for their first match. The usual being too close together and not attacking the ball, but they played smart and worked hard. Our goalies were VERY good as our opponent had two brothers who were VERY good ball handlers and our kids sometimes had trouble stopping them. But they figured it out and as the game went on they got better at breaking up the opponents ball handling. The thing that warmed my heart was they finally understood that passing saves your energy and as we passed more, the other team started to wear down from running too much. But they fought hard and challenged us every step of the way. While we won the match it was no blow out and any number of chances could have sent it into the L column.
Like all teams we have work to do, but it was good to see the weeks of practice put to use on the field. I probably yelled a bit too much trying to get the kids into their positions and to keep them from sitting back on their heels. But not too bad! And the best thing was that my kids had a LOT of fun. Yes they won, but even before the match was over, they really seemed to be enjoying themselves. One of my girls was feeling sick but wanted to play so bad she wouldn’t tell me she was sick because she knew I wouldn’t play her. I knew she wasn’t feeling great so I played her only a little, but I didn’t realize she was sick – it seemed at the time she was just really nervous.
And I wouldn’t be a proud parent if I didn’t send a shout out to my son over his breakaway goal towards the end of the game. He eluded a couple defenders and with nobody in front of the goal to pass to, drilled a shot into the left side of the net. He was so happy. I wish I could say I taught him everything he knows, but far from it. He’s had some GREAT coaches teach him during the past few summers at the various camps he’s gone to.
Our next match is the weekend after Labor Day – here’s hoping the kids have fun win or lose! I know I had a blast. I’m glad I made the jump to U10. I really miss the little kids and I had a lot of fun with them, but this is a different more intense fun at this level. We have a fairly young team for the division so I’m sure things will get tougher, but if the kids have a blast win or lose, I’ve done the main part of my job as coach.