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It is the beginning of the school year and that means that fall sports are starting. One of the fall sports of course is soccer. My son is finally old enough to try  his hand at sports and told me that he wanted to play soccer, so that is what I signed him up for at our local YMCA. The rosters came out and I saw my son’s team was the “Purple Dinosaurs.” Too cute. As I looked down the names, I noticed that our team did not yet have a coach. I figured that one would come along eventually and went to the practice.

THE FIRST PRACTICE: Since there was no coach for our team, we were assigned one of the young high school/college-aged YMCA staff members, who worked with the kids on kicking the ball in the goal and a few dribble around the cone drills. As I watched my son dribble the ball across the grass, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. Where was the coach?! Was there no one who would step up and do this? Who’s fault was it? It wasn’t until later that I found out that all the coaches are volunteers (Forgive my ignorance, this is my first time my  kid is old enough to do team sports). When I realized that it was a volunteer program and that no one had volunteered, I took it upon myself to step up to the challenge. How hard could it be to coach a team of three year old’s, right?! Boy was I wrong…

Our first practice had no coach, but we got our bright purple jerseys. Our second practice was rained out, so that meant that by the time I had volunteered just a few days before the first game, we had no practice and no coach and the kids didn’t even know each other. I was in for a rough first game…

GAME START: We were ready to go! Suited up in our purple shirts and socks ready for action. The only problem was we only had one player…my son. As the yellow team on the other end with their coach who had been doing this for a few years and their team of perfectly dressed yellow warriors warmed up and were ready to go. My son’s purple teammates started to trickle in one by one. Still not having enough players to play a 4 on 4 game, the yellow team loaned us one of their players to start.

IN THE GAME: The first ball was kicked by my son and then the other team took it back and scored. It was great for them…especially for the mom who was screaming “THIS IS YOUR MOMENT” to her three year old daughter as she ran across the field to score a goal. I was immediately shocked. “Is this lady for real?!” The ball was lined up once again, but no one on our team wanted to kick it. My crying son explains to me “Daddy, I kicked the ball and they took it away from me!” I then told my son in the heat of the moment “Well if they take it from you, you need to go take it back and kick it in the goal.”

I then realized that these tears were totally my fault. What the heck was I doing. For the last three years I had been asking my son to share and be kind and to use words to talk through situations, but in this one moment, I threw it all out the window and told him that he needed to go TAKE the ball from another kid. I was in a sense proud of the tears because I had created a good person. See, my son’s team was made up of almost entirely first year three year olds that had never played the game before. We had no practice before the game and the kids hardly knew each other. Yes we were given a truly tough situation and yes we will be fine, but wow what a learning experience.

I am not yet sure how to clearly explain to my son that he and his fellow players need to take the ball from other kids and kick it in the other goal while at the same time teaching him to work as a team, but I will figure it out. Either way, these memories are pretty awesome and I look forward to figuring out how the heck to coach soccer.

THE END: After the game was over, we made a tunnel for the kids to run through and have fun. No one knew the score and thankfully no one cared. We got crushed, but we had fun (except for a few tears). We will be back better than ever next week. (anyone remember that movie The Big Green?)

Are you starting to coach soccer just like me? Here are a few resources for you that I am glad I have:

  • Click HERE for more cool info on how to start and coach a youth soccer team from Online Soccer Academy.
  • Click HERE for the Baffled Parents Guide to Coaching Soccer.
  • go on Amazon and get yourself a “coach” shirt just like me. (yes, I totally bought my own coach shirt)