If you’ve been involved in youth soccer for a while, you probably have heard someone wax poetic about how kids in the US won’t ever be as good as their foreign counterparts because they never play pickup soccer in the park, street, empty lot, etc. All they do is play in an ultra structured environment. I think this argument is a bit dated, but you might be surprised that kids in the US do play pickup soccer – at school.

Soccer hit our town like a freight train. Population just under 10,000 and no soccer league six years ago. This year we’ll likely cross the 1,000 player threshold. That’s a lot of kids playing soccer for a town our size. But the other day I saw something that brought a smile to my face.

I was driving by one of our elementary schools on a sunny, but COLD and windy, day with temps in the high 30’s. There were 20 or so kids playing soccer during recess while the teachers stood by bundled up like Eskimos. I recognized a lot of faces, but not all, and they were having a ball. What struck me was it wasn’t like 10 or so hard core players playing while everyone else strolled around the playground or did something else. Almost all the kids out there were playing an informal game with jackets thrown down on the ground for goals.

Imagine that! I did note that the ball they had was in tatters. I’m thinking as part of our community outreach I might suggest our league buy some balls for the teachers to use during recess…