When I started On The Pitch a few years ago, it was one of only a handful of blogs that dealt with youth soccer, and one of the only ones entirely dedicated to it. Amazingly enough, for a sport that has approximately 17 million children participating in it, there are still few sites dedicated to discussing just youth soccer. Oh sure, you’ll find plenty of sites trying to sell you something, coupled with a blog or comment forum. BigSoccer has been ‘the’ soccer discussion site for years, but even they only have two forums dedicated to youth soccer, and many posts deal with just competitive soccer. Yet the people with the most questions are usually those parents whose kids are just starting out – in Recreational soccer. There are many regional discussion forums out there that deal with just youth soccer, but again, they are often regional in nature and often lack the more general discussion and questions you’ll find people searching for.
So partly to see if there really is a niche to fill, and partly to experiment with some the sister forum software to the package I use for blogging at On The Pitch, I’ve put together a number of youth soccer forums called Talk On The Pitch.
The first thing you’ll notice is there are a LOT of forums. My goal with this is to better categorize the discussion traffic so people can focus on specific areas of youth soccer should they choose. Some forums have only a couple forums that are heavily used and you can quickly suffer from post overload. Another exciting aspect is the ability of posts to be ‘tagged’, so users can search for all posts tagged with, say, ‘cleats’ across all forums. The forum also provides many different RSS feeds which will let you use an RSS reader like Bloglines, Google Reader, or My Yahoo! to stay up to date on the latest discussions, filtered just about any way you can imagine. You can subscribe to RSS feeds for the latest posts overall, posts in a specific forum, a specific thread, your favorite topics, and even specific tags. You can, of course, browse the forums this way as well.
The idea here is to ensure old discussions don’t necessarily disappear into oblivion, that they can be found beyond just using a search engine.
So I hope you’ll find them useful and participate. It will likely be slow at first, but hopefully over time, we’ll attract more youth soccer parents looking for a community dedicated just to youth soccer. I’m still working on adding plugins to support other common forum features like avatars, etc. But I wanted to get them out there since they are ready to use for discussions. All you need to do is register for an On The Pitch account, which can also be used for posting comments on On The Pitch stories, and post your first topic! These accounts will also be usable for some other services and tools we’re thinking about developing.
So go ahead and Talk On The Pitch! Let me know what you think.