I subscribe to a twice weekly newsletter called the Potomac Soccer Wire.
It is a very informative and interesting collection of local (Washington, D.C. area) stories, along with international coverage. Mainly with a focus on US youth, collegiate, and professional soccer. Along with the increasing numbers of men and women playing in overseas competitions.
Chris Hummer, the editor, had a very interesting quote in this week's newsletter:
"Pick up soccer is widely believed to be best way to develop creativity and technical skills for youth players world wide, yet it's a component of the player development cycle that is SORELY LACKING in America."I could not agree more with that statement.
Most well-known players did not play in vastly organized youth leagues. They honed their skills during informal environments. Whether it was on a beach in Abidjan, Accra, and Rio de Janeiro. Or in the urban centers of Buenos Aires, London, and Milan. The game itself, played informally, was their first teacher. Then they advanced to youth leagues and professional academies.
A few years ago, I read that Romario of Brasil still routinely played pick up beach soccer in Rio. He never forgot his roots or lost a child-like passion for futebol. He played on the beach with guys like you and me. He didn't need a live crowd of thousands or to receive any compensation.
Coaching is Important
The concept of pick up soccer doesn't negate the need or importance of dedicated and qualified youth coaches; however, as US Soccer continues to grow, we need to promote, recognize, and reward creativity. There should be less focus on winning, and more emphasis placed upon player development, along with a life-long passion for the sport.
Soccer is a Kick in the Grass
Think about it? When was the last time that you saw two or three children kicking a soccer ball around just for fun? Without any pressure to perform or screaming parents? Devoid of cones and adult supervision?
When a child learns to read or play a musical instrument, we don't yell at them. It might be a lesson to share with over-zealous parents and coaches. ;-)
The beauty of soccer is found in its simplicity.
"The ball is round, and the game lasts 90 minutes."
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