My Team

April 11, 2008 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

I am continually amazed at the progress of my team of little ones. Although, I suppose I can’t call them my “little” ones any more. Last night’s game reminded me of just how far they have come both as individual players, as a team, and as people in general.

They played short one player last night. So, not only did they have no substitutions, they actually had one less player on the field than the other team. I saw passing. I saw teamwork. I saw them give up the ball to another teammate who had a better angle for shot on goal. I saw things and have seen things in them that I could not have taught them as a coach. They learned this stuff on their own. Trust, teamwork, unselfishness…all the things that we try and try to drill into them during practice and training both on and off the field. And, in the end, they learn it on their own.

And now, sadly, after my third year with these boys, I must send them on their way without me. Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, I have to bid my team farewell after this Spring season. They have come so far. When I put this team together, they were a motley bunch of scrappers. Spirited and determined to win, I taught them as best I could. I’ve loved them all like my own son. I hope that even after we part ways, I will always be “Coach” to them because they will always be “my Hooligans”. 🙂

One of the reasons I coach is not to try to raise up the next generation of professional soccer players (even though I think most of them could if they really wanted to) but to raise up a generation of the next soccer coaches. I want my guys to have a great experience in The Game so that, when they have kids of their own, they will want to raise up the next generation of soccer players. So, if I can teach them one more thing, it will be in the spirit of a very good Irish friend of mine. He once told me “At this [young] age, TEACH THEM TO PLAY. Then, when they get older, TEACH THEM TO WIN.” Too often kids and parents expect teams to win and they get so focused on winning that they forget to teach The Game. There is plenty of time to learn how to win. But we need to teach them to play when they are young and not focus so much on the winning part. That will come with time. Be patient. Focus on the things that my young team has learned on their own: teamwork, fair play, composure, passing, Heart/Desire/Passion. Well…maybe I helped them a little bit. 😉 We are, after all, a team.

By the way…we won our game last night 5 to 3. Nice job guys!

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The Great Ones It’s Been A While…

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