My 96 girls travel players are mostly freshmen in high school now, all playing on their respective school teams (we have players at five different schools). To say it has been a shock for some would be an understatement, even those playing Varsity. Coming from the physical, intense, and fast paced environment of club soccer, it’s been an interesting adjustment for some in how they’re being asked to play. After watching a few of their school matches and seeing what they were trying to do only to be admonished for it, I wrote the following and sent it out to all of them:
When you cross that touchline – you are a warrior.
No opponent is going to step aside so you can score at will all by yourself. If you blindly turnover the ball to ‘be safe’ your opponents will only thank you. If you stand around waiting for the ball, your opponents will only pass you by. Yet at times it can seem that’s all you’re encouraged to do.
But you know better. That is not how you’ve been trained.
You don’t clear it – you possess it. You don’t stand still, you are always in motion. You don’t ‘stay in your circle’ you dash across the field and do the unexpected. You don’t ‘just kick it’, you bring it up field to start an attack or score. You don’t do it all yourself, you send the ball to open teammates, even if they’re near your own goal. You don’t fear the lightning quick striker, you steal her thunder and the ball at a full sprint. You stay right behind her shoulder, ensuring she knows you are always there. You don’t fear the distance, you drill the shot at the corner. You don’t watch the shot get taken, you dive in for the tackle knowing you’ll have more to show for it than dirty socks.
You’ve trained too hard for too long and endured too much to conform to some prim idea of how girls should play soccer. Soccer itself grew out of a war game and you have a warrior’s spirit. Don’t ever forget that’s part of why you love ‘the beautiful game’!