It’s never about where, it’s always about why.
When I was coaching under 6s through to under 10s (back when under 6s had goalkeepers), one of the biggest challenges was where kids played on the park. It’s interesting to watch the kids progress over the years and how some tend to naturally slot into a defensive position, and some more attacking. In saying that, everyone wants to score goals and be the hero in the limelight. Goal scoring is of course the spectacular exciting part of the game and makes the highlight reels on YouTube. You don’t ever see the top 10 defensive moves highlight show, but I believe every game is won or lost from the back, starting with the GK.
In park soccer, it’s important for kids to experience every position, and to learn how to attack, shoot, defend, hold the ball up and even experience the pressure of goalkeeping. The challenge is, most kids want to play up front, because that’s where the spot light is, but clearly you can’t play everyone there and have 7 or 9 forwards.
So what I believe is critical, whether it’s under 8s or under 16s or first grade, is that every player knows why they are playing, regardless of where they are playing. As coaches, it is paramount to keep the WHY bigger than the what or the where, and make it the highest value, instead of scoring goals or even winning. The WHY is the driving value, purpose and reason we play.
WHY do you play? Why do your kids play? What’s the purpose and reason? It’s not to be a hero. It’s not to score goals. It’s not even to win. It’s to experience what it means to play as part of a team. It’s learning to play your part in a bigger picture. It’s to have fun, connect with friends and become the best you can be. It’s contributing to the heart, values and culture of your team, and that means that ultimately where you play isn’t important, it’s why. As coaches, and parents, we need to instill the WHY into our players and team, regardless of what age or ability they are. It’s what keeps kids coming back and enjoying their team sport.
Bretta – player / coach development