Sunday, March 30, 2008

first game

Yesterday should have been the third game for my U10 team. It was our first. East Tennessee spring season soccer has never, in my limited experience, been quite the chore this year has become. Our first game was snowed out, and our second game was rained out.

As I approached our field, I met up with a couple of my team members who immediately noticed that we were going to be playing a girl heavy coed team. Of course, my team being all boys, and fairly typical eight to nine year old boys, one of them made a comment suggesting our team should easily win. I was quick to point out that he had no basis for this as he had not seen them play and that the fact that they are girls suggests nothing when it comes to their abilities on the field.

My point was proved soon after as the game began and they scored on us fairly quickly. The one real difference between boys and girls of this age would be physical in that the boy is more likely to come out of fight for the ball still on his feet. This is not meant to disparage the girls only to suggest that the boys are in general going to be a bit bigger and stronger. It's also an argument to not have coed teams after the U6 level whenever possible. But that's another post that I may have covered some time in the past.

This game certainly proved that no matter what any of us may think, girls can play with the boys sometimes, and they can play well. The first half saw our opponents take a fair lead against us. Big Brother was our keeper for the first half, and as I've seen before, he took those first goals very personally before figuring out to move and pounce. He soon stopped allowing goals and even took down a couple of their players diving onto the ball.

The second half saw us close the gap. We actually should have won the game on an offside call, though not necessarily due to the call. I saw the goal, but I didn't see offside nor did I not see offside. What I did see was the line judge make an offside call, the referee take back the goal and the opposing coach argue the call and convince the ref to give them the goal.

And this is my problem here. I could argue neither the goal or the offside call as I didn't see it. The team may have been offside or not. My problem is with the opposing coach arguing and winning. Our ref was a young man of twelve or thirteen years. At that age I don't expect him to have the same skills as an adult when it comes to standing up to an adult. My problem is with the other coach arguing with a child and setting a bad example for all the players on the field.

I teach my teams to accept without argument the calls of the ref. That's how the game goes. You will never agree one hundred percent with the referee, and a good player knows how to suck it up and keep doing his or her best. I expect my players to play that way, and I expect other teams and their coaches to play the same way. I believe this so much that, during our scrimmages, I will make at least one bad call, sometimes more. I want them to know never to argue with the ref. Sometimes bad calls happen. Sometimes the ref misses something. You can not let it interfere with how you approach the game. You suck it up, you let it go and you keep giving your hundred percent. It's seldom personal, and you can't take it as such.

We ended the game tied, and I couldn't be prouder of my guys in their first game. We need to work on getting corner kicks into the air. We need to stop bunching up and stealing the ball from each other. We need to pass more. We need for my one insanely powerful striker to accept that he can't reasonably expect to run around the entire field for thirty to forty minutes, so he should stay in his position.

One moment that gave me a giggle was due to my sweeper. This kid, in our very first practice, when I asked them all their favorite positions immediately piped up with sweeper. He does a great job on the back line. At one point in the game he kicked the ball from the half line into the arms of their goalie and actually hurt the kid's chest. I could see it in the keeper's eyes and here it in the smack as the ball hit him.

Oh, and our team name? Yo Momma. Seriously. Not my decision.


don said...

Yo momma. That's classic. I tried to get Jessica's all-girl team a couple years ago to name themselves "the Bonecrushers" but they didn't go for it.

I think our league has some sort of "no appeals to the ref/all calls are final type rule". Some coaches still try though, but it takes a lot of pressure off the young refs.

You have to have a lot of respect for anyone who refs a soccer game. It's tough to be out there for that long, making all those calls and trying to be everywhere on the field but out of the way. And to do that for a full game without making any mistakes would be almost impossible.

audrey said...

Totally unrelated question here. I have a friend in Nashville who is in a wheelchair, but has the opportunity to go on a day trip of her choice anywhere within 5 hours of Nashville. I know that's kind of your neck of the woods and was wondering if you have any ideas for places to visit. She's very artsy, not big on club hopping, if that helps any.