I happened to notice a Google hit on the site where someone searched for ‘soccer participation awards gender neutral’ and that got me thinking about how we handle tournament trophies for our co-ed teams. Those of you who coach co-ed teams or oversee co-ed tournaments know that if you want a world of pain, get trophies with boy figurines on them for everyone. You will be lucky to leave the complex alive! The obvious solution is to get trophies that don’t have a figurine on top, but the kids seem to like them more than the generic ones (the bicycle kick one is a favorite here). The kids also like to get their tournament trophy right after the game. So how can you make sure you have enough girl and boy trophies?

We’ve gotten a system down that has worked so far. Our teams tend to be gender balanced within one or two, but sometimes they can skew as much as 3 or 4 either way. We often have our tournament over the course of a week so we need to make sure we have the right number no matter who wins. Upsets happen!

As an example, we’ll assume we’re getting trophies for the champs in each division (U10, U12, etc). First, get a breakdown of the teams in each division broken down by gender and ranked by seeding (if the seeding isn’t random) Now look for a common breakdown among the top 4 teams. This is where you try and guess who is likely to win or which breakdown improves the odds you’ll get it right. Now, if you can afford it, get two extra trophies. Again, depending on the breakdown you might get 2 extra boys, a boy and girl, or two extra girls. These trophies are for the coach and the sponsor (or an assistant coach). But, this gives you a cushion to ensure more of the teams in the division can be served with the trophies on hand. Now talk with your trophy supplier and get them to price you some extra figurines. They shouldn’t be more than a dollar or so. Based on the teams that would not ‘fit’ with the trophies you have, estimate the number to get. But don’t overdo it. For example, if you have 4 divisions and worst case you might need 6 extra girl figurines, get 4 or so since it’s VERY unlikely that ALL the low seeded outlier teams will win. Could happen – but if it does, buy a lottery ticket. So a small group of figurines should ensure you are set for all divisions.

Now on game day, make sure you have a nut driver that fits the nut on the bottom of the trophies. Trophies are held together by a threaded rod which sandwiches the column between the base and the figurine. Its really easy to change them out. Loosen the nut and then you should see the figurine threaded into a shaft nut. Be careful not to tighten the figure too much as the threaded part is just plastic. Also watch for the cover plate sometimes used between the figurine and the column. But it is really easy to do.

So on championship day, check the gender breakdowns of the finalists. If they fit within your current trophies – great. If not, you have all game to switch a couple of figurines. If the teams are so divergent that you can’t do it ahead of time, wait until its clear who will win. If its tied – you’ll just have to make the quick switch after the shootout if necessary! Otherwise you can switch the coaches trophies if needed AFTER the ceremony. But the good news is for maybe an extra $20 per division, you can have the right number of boy and girl figurine trophies and peace of mind that you’ll have the right number of each type for the team that wins.
Plus the coaches and sponsor get a trophy too!