Our eldest had his first scrimmage this weekend with his U10 Challenge team, playing the White team from nearby Burlington. Having spent most of his soccer career on the coaches sideline when he plays, it was refreshing to just be a spectator. This is old hat to many of you with Challenge/Classic/Select players, but it’s new for us, both as parents and a soccer league.

The U10 Boys have worked very hard this summer getting ready for the season. Even though it was just a scrimmage, the kids had just gotten their uniforms and knew that this would be their first ‘test’. Our #99 was nervous but trying to hide it, playing GameBoy and relaxing during the morning. He was beaming when he walked onto the field knowing he had gotten to start.

Both teams played a great game. Almost all the players on our team were VERY hesitant and nervous when the match started. However, they quickly settled down and played very well. The 6v6 format for U10 on a fairly large field (60yds x 40yds) is fast paced and exciting. We expect that the matches will be high scoring compared to the 8v8 format that used to be used in both Rec and Challenge. This was no exception. Both coaches tried many different lineups and formations and a total of 12 goals were scored in what turned out to be a very competitive and exciting scrimmage. Our #99 got 2 goals and an assist so he was very excited afterward.

On the way home, he eagerly asked if I had seen his goals and the assist, which of course I had. Putting my coaches hat on, I explained to him that I was very proud and he had clearly worked hard. I told him that if I had to pick one moment that really made me proud of his effort and learning, it was this. He received a pass from a teammate right at the last defender and got a breakaway up the center of the field. As any youth coach will tell you, the younger kids on a breakaway 9 times out of 10 will dribble right up to the keeper then take a hard shot that almost always goes directly to the keeper (hey lemme aim at this ‘target’ not the open goal) Happens ALL the time, and my eldest has done this a number of times in previous seasons. They don’t think about it – they just see keeper, goal, and end up shooting right at the keeper like some kind of target – ignoring the wide open parts of the goal. Must be the loud colorful shirts the keepers wear! This time, however, he went right up to the keeper and then flicked the ball into the wide open part of the net with the outside of his foot. He had clearly been expecting me to say "you scored – I’m so proud!" and it was fun to watch his reaction when he realized what he had done for the first time and why I was so proud. He had thought about the best thing to do and done it instead of just drilling the ball towards the net.

Needless to say, Soccer Dad was very proud.

I promise not to bore you all with match recaps once his regular season starts in September. Much. :)