Summer isn't quite over yet but the signs of the coming school year are too obvious to be ignored. Soccer practice has begun and for the first time in a while I am neither a head coach or an assistant. The big guy that I call Little Jack is a bit disappointed that I am not, but this year I needed a break.
And frankly I think that it will be good for him to be exposed to the ranting and raving of a different crazy man. Ok, I am not crazy- at least not when it comes to coaching. It doesn't fit my style or more importantly my philosophy about kids and team sports.
At the tender age of 9-10 my intention is to teach the children how to play, how to be part of a team and to love the game. Most of them will never be good enough to become professional athletes and those that are need a coach who knows more than I do.
But what I do know is that every one of them will benefit from learning how to be a part of a team. Every one of them will find as they grow up that they don't like everyone they encounter and that sometimes the people you dislike are the same people you have to work with. So the best thing you can do is figure out how to get along with them even when you wish that they would go along, or should I say a long way from you.
Beyond the socialization skills I have to include the importance of exercise. Back in the ice age in which I experienced childhood you couldn't keep us in the house. We wanted to run around, ride our bikes and do all sorts of things that you couldn't do inside.
That was then and this is now. Life changed and the Playstation generation has learned to love to sit with their DS or Wii and blow pixels up. I get it, I understand it and I appreciate it. I like to play video games too. I like to spend far too much time here on the 'puter too, But I am exceptionally conscious of the benefits of exercise and the problems that are created when you don't.
So I look at this time on the soccer field as a must. It is not a question of whether my kids want to play- it is how many sports can I get them into without over programming them. I want them to learn how to play a few and hopefully that means that they'll love at least one of them. And if they love it then they will want to get outside to practice and to play.
So you see, I see many benefits to having a love of the game. I only wish that I could somehow turn back the clock so that I could play with them too-but that it is a different story altogether.