The battle lines are drawn, the players are ready. Well . . . almost. One of the players is swinging from the goal post, and another won’t leave his mothers lap. Half the defending team has their backs turned to the ball because the ice cream truck has driven by, three are already making a bee line to their parents screaming to get a treat. Several players on offence have tackled each other to the ground in fits of giggles and screams. And we pay to be a part of it. Every year.
Coaches for preschool soccer have a tough job. First, they must keep all the children on the field. This is harder than it sounds. Children move like a group of cats, running in every which direction the wind takes them. The children that the coaches manage to get on the field then must be herded towards the ball and convinced to kick it in a specific direction, namely, the goal. There are always one or two that understand how the game works and will dutifully run and usually kick the ball out-of-bounds. Other duties of the coaches include tying shoe laces, scooping downed children back on their feet, removing children from the goal posts, and being endlessly positive and perky. They make nowhere near enough for all that.
The only thing that might be more amusing than watching the game is to listen to the parents in the side lines. At the beginning of the season expectations are high and parents shout and cheer for their little one to kick goals or steal the ball from the other team. As the season progresses these cheers change to more practical goals like not throwing fits when they don’t get a turn, or when someone breathes on them. If you closed your eyes you might almost imagine you were at a dog park. “Where’s the Ball Baby? Get the ball, get the ball! Good girl! Way to go!”
At times as a parent it is necessary to make a few ridiculous rules to preserve some family dignity. My #1 rule to my daughter – There is no crying in soccer. She believed me for about the first five practices before she realized she’d been duped. Another ridiculous rule – keep your shirt down. For some reason soccer jerseys only come in one size for the little kids, super large. The temptation of pulling the circus tent like shirt up and over the head for some is too hard to resist.
In the end, the pictures are taken, the trophies are given, and we all cheer that the season is over.