When the MYSA first started out – the coaches just wanted to play soccer. I remember the first time I proposed a set of bylaws. People’s eye’s glazed over 🙂

When we first started out, we used rules from a nearby city as the basis for our Laws of the Game. Well, those rules were anything but Small Side. We also had trouble finding coaches at first, so we actually played 6v6 in U6 one season because we had so many kids and not enough coaches. Note to self – trying to keep 12 kids focused on any type of practice is next to impossible without 3 or 4 assistants!

Well, now that the league is growing and we’re trying to get affiliated with our state organization, we’ve got all sorts of catching up to do. One thing that’s clear is our rules are WAY out of whack with the state and national rules and we’ll have to address that before we can affiliate.

As a start, we got our U6 division down to 4v4 last season on a 20yd x 30yd field which is close. But our U8 is 8v8 and our U10 is 11v11. And as a parent of a U8 player, I can’t say its all bad. I coach small side in U6 and I agree the kids get more touches and action, but in U8 the players still get a lot of action and I honestly don’t know if playing 4v4 at U8 makes sense. Being a late comer I’m sure I’ve missed the raging debates, etc – but sometimes it seems like the small side regs out there are almost too small. Sure 8v8 at U8 is too big, but 6v6 seems more realistic (3 offense, 2 defense, and a goalie or 2-1-2 and a goalie) to start teaching offense and defense to the U8 players.

So it should be interesting to see how things transition. I know how much affiliation will help our league with insurance, access to challenge tournaments for our future challenge teams, coach and referee training, etc. But sometimes I wonder if scaling the roster sizes so far back isn’t taking something away. And no not from the parents but the kids. I’m not sure keeping kids at 4v4 until they are 8 and only then having the ability to start teaching them about offense and defense is a good idea. I’ve seen our kids improve by leaps and bounds in just two years and many are developing a ‘sense’ of the game even at U8. A sense you can only get on a somewhat larger field with more then 3 team mates.

I know, I know, its rushing things and any resistance to small side is because its not ‘the way its done’ but not in my case. I’ve taken our kids to 3v3 tournaments in the summer. Its a completely different ball game and they love it. But they also love the more structured game they play in the Spring and Fall – you wonder if a little bit of both is a bad thing (small side and not so small side in the same year)

Can you tell I’m conflicted?