TBogg – "…a somewhat popular blogger" usually writes about politics, but occasionally treats his readers to a post about his daughter, ‘the lovely and talented Casey’, who has played soccer and many other sports during her childhood. Having completed her senior year of high school ball, her Dad posted up a note about their county championship and the bittersweet feelings that go with the ending of an era in your child’s life. Even though Casey is heading to college and will play soccer there, TBogg was reminiscing about her days playing various sports on girls and boys teams and wrote something I think every parent with a young child in sports should read:

True story: when Casey was, I’m guessing, five she played her first season of soccer and she was awful. Really really awful. Standout awful in a field of kindergartners; that kind of awful. I ran into her coach in the off-season and he asked me if she was going to play again the following season. When I said yes, he just looked at me and said, "Really?".

And she did and she hasn’t stopped since.

Mission accomplished.

Ask any parent of a select or travel soccer player about how their child did at 4 or 5 years old and you’ll hear all sorts of stories about cloud gazing, dandelion picking, etc. Children who develop into good soccer players aren’t born that way. There’s a difference between being able to run fast (helps a lot in U5/U6) and being able to handle the ball with ease without looking (helps beyond swarm ball, regardless of speed). How a child performs at a young age is no indication of how well they will play at an older age. You’d be surprised how many parents ask if they should sign up their six year old because of how badly they did as a five year old.

As a league president I’ve had this discussion with a number of parents. They see their child picking their nose while the ball rolls by and worry that they’ll never develop into decent soccer players. Don’t worry about how ‘well’ your child is doing when they’re in U6, U8, or even U10. Kids ‘blossom’ at different times. If they’re having fun, that’s all that matters. If they develop into skilled soccer players, great. If they don’t, but they had fun participating in an outdoor activity with friends, that’s a good thing! Just enjoy the ride.

Congratulations L&T Casey and good luck at the next level!