There’s something inherently weird about online soccer websites for kids when the whole point of soccer is to go OUTside. Yet when the weather is bad or the seasons are over, kids who love soccer will be online more. A few years ago, youth soccer was almost non-existent online. A few active mailing lists and forums for parents and coaches. Clubs went online to make administration easier. But beyond that, not much. Pro soccer sites took off a couple years ago, but only recently have we seen soccer sites oriented to kids showing up.
One fairly new site is Gong!, an online soccer game and network where kids can play a variety of multiplayer games and interact online:
GONG! is a casual, free-to-play, on-line soccer game with an active and fun online community. You can play it by yourself or with friends over the Internet. The game is designed for casual play for all users above the age of 9. The GONG! online community is the collection of all registered players of GONG! Our main meeting place is the GONG! website. On the website, users can send messages, see their stats, and change their individual profiles. The community will make it easier for you to arrange matches and see the latest announcements.
Planet Live and digital agency MCM Net announced the launch of Planet Soccer Live yesterday. Planet Soccer is a new virtual world aimed at tweens and teens from 6-14. Users can play soccer-related games, hang out in a stadium or training grounds, customize their homes and avatars with Soccer Dollars earned through in-game activities, and socialize with other users through pre-selected phrases. Planet Soccer Live is free to play, but for £3.50/month, users will get exclusive access to special virtual goods and games…
Granted – everyone is trying to launch social networks to be the next Facebook, but something like this might be worthwhile for kids who really like soccer and also spend time online. The catch will be how crippled a free account is vs a paid one on those sites that offer such an option. Will parents go through the hassle of paying a monthly fee so their kids can play online flash games when there are so many sites out there offering them for free?
I did want to give kudos to the Gong! team for limiting the social network aspect to kids 13 and up and requiring parental consent at 13 to activating that for them. Yes this can be fooled, but still – involving the parents in decisions like that is important.