I’ve coached girls in soccer, either as part of coed teams or on girls travel teams, for a number of years now. Yet it’s still an amazing learning experience as a coach, especially as a male coach, every day. Probably the toughest coaching job I’ve had was coaching a coed U10 Rec team that had a number of talented girls and boys on it, most destined for travel teams when they got older. Dealing with the dynamic between the girls and boys, the differences in their competitive spirit and motivations, ensuring the girls had opportunities to shine, and making sure the boys didn’t act like, well, boys – ignoring open girls when passing, etc. – was extremely difficult. It was also very rewarding.
So when I saw a note on Twitter about a new soccer documentary called ‘Kick Like A Girl‘, directed by Jenny Mackenzie, I was intrigued. The documentary tracks the experiences of a 3rd Grade (U9) girls soccer team called “The Mighty Cheetahs” that moves to the boys division seeking stronger competition. Now, this is not as uncommon as many people think. Talented girls teams in smaller leagues will often play in boys divisions if their league lacks a dedicated player development program where they can play against teams of similar skill. But recording much of the season and being able to make a documentary about it is special:
Anyone who is really into youth soccer will tell you that most volunteers always wonder how other programs or teams are doing X or Y. It’s a curiosity that arises from a desire to make their own team/program/league better. So having the experiences of a team documented is interesting enough. When the scenario happens to be the girls playing the boys, that’s a perfect combination. The film is narrated by “Lizzie”, one of the young players on “The Mighty Cheetahs”, which is a neat idea.
Almost all of the girls on my 96 travel team came from coed teams and knew what playing with the boys was all about. The good and the bad. I spend a lot of time trying to counter the bad in our Rec program with ‘girls scrimmages’ and clinics for younger girls with the older travel players mentoring. I see the situations and difficulties girls face growing up playign with the boys every day. So I’m looking forward to seeing this film – both to see how others handled the situation and how the girls reacted and grew from the experience.
Funny tidbit – when one of our coaches wanted to give younger girls on our coed Rec teams a chance to play with just girls to get a feel for it, he called the informal program ‘Kick It Like A Girl’. It was very successful and I probably should write about it sometime!
Look for the premiere on HBO May 28th, 2009. Here is the film’s website (Warning – the trailer auto plays!) and also their entry in IMDB. The director of the film noted in an email that the DVDs should be available in late June. Should be fun!
UPDATE: I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my own little tale of the girls taking on the boys when my U10 Rec Team participated in the NC Recreation State Cup. Lot of fun.