Youth sports. You would think that the name would bring a smile to your face and thoughts of past fun and friends. But once again I have been involved in a drama that has played out on a field of six-year-old soccer players. The two coaches involved here have good intentions. However, it is the subjectivity involved in their decisions that brings the children’s long-term best interest into question.
          What is it that drives a person to hold onto their position as a coach so tightly? Are they dissatisfied with their life and their work situation? Have they been screwed over in their life and are trying to make sure that the same thing does not happen to their children? Is it the fact that they have seen other kids being screwed, and so they think they can do better than that coach did? Do they watch coaches on T.V. and yearn for the same status that professional and DI coaches have?
          This next scenario played out in a six-year-old house soccer league. We came in and made a presentation to the B.O.D. They liked what we had to say. Their season had already started, just practices, and there was some question as to whether this would disrupt the current staff’s coaching. I was more concerned that someone believed that the coach of a six-year-old house soccer team could be interrupted, but I digress.
          I went to one practice, and to say it went well would be an understatement. The kids loved our play for fun scenario. The coaches enjoyed the way the kids had so much fun. The Director saw what we were doing and was pleased. The parents commented on how much fun the kids had and how much soccer they got to play.
          Essentially, we let the kids play “Simon Says” with the coach and “Hokey Pokey” as a team, until finally they played a short sided game. Great fun was had by all. Well, the coach had to run a lot. I told the kids at the end of the “Simon Says” game, that “Simon Says” chase the coach!! Without knowing, it they learned to stop and start, change directions, balance, and a little upper body strength as the coach let them tackle her. It was wonderful.
           I approached two of the other coaches in the league about what we were doing and to put it lightly, they were not pleased. The first coach told me that his son was going to play in a big hockey tournament in Canada the next weekend, and that he was selected by an ex-DI coach. There were kids from three different organizations going up for this “big” tournament. When I stated there were no big tournaments in July for hockey, the coach became indignant. I then told him that these kids were not the best kids from the area, just the kids whose families could afford to pay to go to Canada. What happened next floored me. The coach said that he could not afford to go to the tournament and had to skip a $500 mortgage payment to make the trip. His son was the goalie, and if he didn’t have this structure, he would be running around on the ice hitting the kids with his stick.
          One side note. This coach’s son played the whole game, every game, and played most of the game at the top striker position. When a water break was called, he was the only player to not join the rest of his teammates in a circle. A coincidence, I think not. The other kids shared the playing time.
          The other coach took great offense to my approach also. She thought she was hired to coach these kids and that was just what she was going to do.  She inquired if my approach allowed them to play a championship game at the end of the season.
          I watched them play a game against each other. There were four quarters of eight minutes played. I kept track of the actual time played on a stopwatch. They averaged less than three minutes a quarter. During the first half they shouted approximately 27 commands to the children, ones that were not cheering and encouragement.
           After the game was over we tried to have the children play a fun game. It seems that the parents had been tipped off and some chose not to have their kids play. Before our game started, the coach said to everyone, “I really don’t know what is going on, and of course you do not have to stay”. The other coach told the kids on multiple occasions not to hurt the parents when they kicked the ball in to the goals. It was an absolute disaster, except for the fact that a couple of kids had a grand old time kicking and running around.