Clash: What Coaching 6 & 7 Year Olds Soccer Has Taught Me. [Part 1]
A couple of months ago I was playing indoor soccer on a team with some people from work. I played a lot of soccer growing up, but stopped playing when I was in high school because going through a late puberty kind of made me awkward while I was adjusting to my six foot and growing frame. But I recently started playing indoor soccer again, and I volunteered my services as a goalie for one of the teams I was playing for. A lot of the people on the team had never played soccer before, and when you are a goalie just standing around isn’t fun and so you help your team out by telling them what to do and where to be, when to attack and when to lay back. It is a lot of fun. One game as I was yelling to my team I thought, “Hey, I should do this a lot more.” So I made a few emails and phone calls and next thing I know I’m coaching 6 and 7 year old coeds in soccer.
We played our fifth game today and we have lost every game. But I have learned a few things in the process that I feel I should share with you about life.
These kids make me laugh, even when I am in a bad mood at practice or a game these guys will force me to cheer up. And even though at times they can be bouncing off the walls and not paying attention, they say the most ridiculous things sometimes. They remind me of my childhood, the days when life really was carefree and wonderful, and for a few hours each week they remind me how to be that again. They make me laugh at them in their ridiculousness which eventually makes me laugh at myself because of mine.
Winning isn’t everything.
As I said, we haven’t won a game yet. 0-5. But I will honestly say that I would take these kids over any of the other kids in the league. What we lack in talent we make up for with character and that quality that makes you smile. I listen to some of the other coaches yell [at] their players, it goes beyond telling them what to do and where to be and into a different realm. I yell [to] my players to get them to do that, but I don’t criticize only show the way. I want to go over to the other side and tell the coach to chill out, but then I realize they are killing us on the scoreboard so I assume they are doing something right.
In life, people will never meet [your] agenda. I want one of the kids to attack the ball but today at our game he was sitting in the grass. I’ve learned that you cannot coach fierceness, aggression, and competitiveness. In practice, I feel like I am constantly telling the kids to pick up the pace, they seem to walk through practice and it’s hard to motivate them to go full speed.
We may be losing, but I think we are usually having more fun than the team that is kicking our butts, and with that, I am satisfied.
No one will ever see eye to eye with you in every circumstance, but we must always remember that we are standing on the same ground, we are playing the same field.
I remember the first practice and I remember the first game, and even though we haven’t won a game yet I see their progress. Life never stops, as you know. It never waits for you to catch up when you skid your knee. Life is beautiful in the way that when you fall and need a break, it continues to progress and move ahead and at the same time it moves behind you, nudging you to get up and catch up. I remember some of the kids used to cry when they got kicked. Imagine a bunch of 6 year olds trying to all kick one ball, you’re going to get kicked just watching it. But today I saw no tears and some pretty mean kicks to the shin.
Everyone has a place.
I’ve learned that, just as it is with the body of Christ, everyone plays their part. Not everyone can play goalie, not everyone can score goals, and not everyone can play every minute of the game. But in the same way that not everyone can play goalie, someone has to. Not everyone can score, but someone has to. I’m figuring these kids out and figuring out their place on the team and who they play better with and who they don’t. We all need rest.
I’m proud of my team, the U7 Clash, because they are awesome. I know it’s cliché, but I’m teaching these kids very little in comparison to all they are teaching me. I don’t even care if we lose the rest of our games. I’m so proud of these kids. I also wanted to write this blog, not because I had anything particularly interesting to say, but because I wanted to brag how awesome they were.