During the course of my Labor Day Weekend, I took some time to enjoy my 9 yr old daughter playing in a holiday weekend soccer tournament. Um, er, OK I didn’t really “enjoy” it all that much.
You see, last year, my daughter’s team went undefeated. Actually, the went pretty much unchallenged. And so, their coach decided that it might be in the girls’ best interest to “play up” this year. There are THOSE WORDS again, the words we all hear every once in a while in kids’ sports, “play up”. Well, play up we did but the overall tone of the tournament was more like “beat up” because it became clear that not only were these young girls going to get their first taste of losing, they were going to get healthy serving of it. These 9 yr old girls got on the field for their first game against 11 yr olds and what a difference it made! Although they held their own and I was personally very proud of them, they wound up going 1-2-1. A traumatic kick to the “cajones” for a team that isn’t used to losing…EVER!
You can imagine the thoughts that were going through my head during this tournament: This is a mistake…How could this guy think this is a good idea? These girls are running around with bricks coming out of their tiny little butts because of how afraid they are of the older girls.
When it comes to playing up, some people think of it as “baptism by fire” and a rite of passage for any elite youth “star” while others find it nothing more than a mild form of child abuse. Let’s face it, we’ve all met the parents who argue with the town about why their kid is special and shouldn’t be forced to play with kids his/her own age and how this is impacting their future earnings potential when the kid inevitably turns pro. We’ve also met the coach who thinks that if the kids aren’t getting their teeth kicked in, they won’t grown as a team.
Isn’t their somewhere in the middle where reality exists?
The short answer is YES!!! And I’m more please to tell you that my daughter’s coach is one of the few who gets it and more importantly, explains it to the kids and the parents.
An email went out shortly after the tournament explaining that the goal for playing up is to expose the girls to a higher level of play. A level of play that they are certainly ready to handle. It turns out that EVERY game these 9 yr-old girls played in the tournament was played against a team that was not only comprised of 11 yr-olds, but 11 yr-old PREMIER teams. It was explained to us that in any tournament, you are subject to “luck of the draw” when placed in a bracket and that our luck…well…it SUCKED!!!!
Anyway, coach went on to say that the girls did an amazing job and that he learned something that weekend as well. The girls would indeed play up in their league play but when it comes to entering tournaments, they would play age appropriate. The girls now know that it’s OK to be nervous, it’s even OK to lose. And I think it’s going to be a great year for these talented little girls in the long journey through childhood sports.
Take a bow coach, you continue to impress!!
So what do you think about kids playing up, either individually or as a team? This weekend was a revelation for me and I wanna know what you guys think and what experiences you’ve had.
I will either address this on this week’s show or next week.
Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:
You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. ( Log Out / Change )
You are commenting using your Twitter account. ( Log Out / Change )
You are commenting using your Facebook account. ( Log Out / Change )
You are commenting using your Google+ account. ( Log Out / Change )
Connecting to %s
Notify me of new comments via email.