Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Proud parents of great players offer insight
by Mike Woitalla, April 20th, 2012 5:16PM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

MOST READ
TAGS:  youth boys, youth girls

MOST COMMENTED

 By Mike Woitalla

"The worst thing for a kid is to be on the field and hear his father screaming from the sidelines, and the kid has to look over and see that."

That’s from Pablo Forlan, the father of 2010 World Cup Golden Ball (MVP) winner Diego Forlan, one of 55 soccer superstars featured in Bruno Pisano’s book, “My Son The Soccer Player: The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Players as Told by Their Parents.”

Pisano tracked down the parents of great players from around the world for insight on the early years of Messi, Donovan, Drogba and many more. If the parents weren’t available, he interviewed the players. (And despite the “sons” title, included are Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy.)

“I never felt any pressure from my father -- only his company,” says Enzo Francescoli, the predecessor as Uruguay’s greatest player to Forlan, whose father added, “With Diego, I’d motivate him, but I very much believed in not talking unless he talked to me. If he wanted to know about his mistakes I’d tell him, and I’d also tell him about his best moves.”

Mia Hamm’s father, Bill Hamm, speaks of the time she, between 10 and 11, quit the game for a while:

“She got tired of playing soccer for some reason. Therefore she took a break for one of the seasons. She sat back for about six months. I used to continue coaching the team without her. In the next season, she returned with new enthusiasm. She had recharged her batteries and wanted to play soccer again.”

Landon Donovan’s mom Donna Kenney-Cash reveals there were times when he thought of quitting: “Sometimes, he used to think that it is not the game it used to be, that what started out as fun has become something stressful.”  It happened when he was away from home at a young age. “But he never stayed negative for long. … Those were just small moments, and he always went back to his love of soccer and went on to fulfill his dreams.”

Albert Drogba
urged his son, Didier, to focus less on soccer and strive to become a doctor or lawyer. Diego Maradona Sr. threatened to take his son’s ball away if he didn’t study more. Young Diego responded by spending more time with his teachers.

“But instead of learning, he began to play soccer with his teachers,” recalls Diego Sr. “The issue is that one of his teachers was his accomplice – they’d play soccer together and the teacher would forge good report cards for him.”

Other players besides Lionel Messi coped with being outsized. Francisco Richo, the father of high-scoring Swedish striker Henrik Larsson, lamented that his boy suffered from a poor physique as he “never drank milk or ate fish.”

“When [Henrik] was 12 or 13, because he was very small and skinny, the other players made fun of him,” Richo says. “His coach saw his quality and told him not to worry because he had the skills to make it, even though at the time he had to play with younger children because of his size.”

Larsson grew to 5-foot-10, but Andres Iniesta, scorer of the 2010 World Cup-winning goal for Spain, peaked at 5-7.

Jose Antonio Iniesta recalls his son’s early challenges: “At that time I was thinking that he will grow with time -- his body will grow. But at that age, teams look for players who are bigger. Most of them focused on height. Fortunately Andres was gifted both with technical ability and a great intellect. However, as I said, coaches at the time were skeptical.”

The book also includes detailed biographical features. Its interviews all end with queries for parental advice.

Says Johan Cruyff, “I think my advice for a father or a mother is not to rush their child. … If your kid knows that you are standing behind him through every moment, through thick and thin, then he will surely give his best.”

Nene Cubillas: “Give him the ball and let him enjoy it. Of course you can go to games and applaud him and encourage him, but try never to upset him or push him. Give him all the freedom in the world so that kids can be themselves and do the best they can.”

The Salvadoran playmaker, Mauricio Cienfuegos, settled in the USA after ending his career with the Los Angeles Galaxy as one of the top players in MLS history.

“For me, my son loves American football, so we support him in that because he enjoys it,” says Cienfuegos. “If your son likes soccer, art, another sport – support him in what he does. The most important thing is for your children to be happy and to do what they love.”

(For more on “My Son The Soccer Player: The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Players as Told by Their Parents” by Bruno Pisano, go to mysonthesoccerplayer.com/. The author donates $1 for every book sold to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.)



2 comments
  1. Jack Niner
    commented on: April 25, 2012 at 1:08 p.m.
    Heaven't read the book yet, but would like to offer the following comment: If your son or daughter have been playing and training at soccer from 4 or 5 yrs and are really good at the game (technique, IQ, athletic), at a early age (say 5th or 6th grade) they will have a deeper understanding of the game than you and probably their coach.
  1. Doug Martin
    commented on: April 26, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.
    <<Jack Niner commented on: April 25, 2012 at 1:08 p.m. Heaven't read the book yet, but would like to offer the following comment: If your son or daughter have been playing and training at soccer from 4 or 5 yrs and are really good at the game (technique, IQ, athletic), at a early age (say 5th or 6th grade) they will have a deeper understanding of the game than you and probably their coach. >> I think your dead wrong, most players do not have that intellectual understanding of the game at 16 even on high performance teams let alone at 11 or 12 years of age. Heck look at TFC and the intellectual challenges faced by the coach getting the players to understand 4-3-3 and they are professionals.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Not using referees is part of Schalke 04's acclaimed youth program     
Schalke 04's youth program, currently home to three U.S. youth national team players -- Haji Wright, ...
Meet 16-year-old Brianna Pinto, called into U.S. national team    
In October, Brianna Pinto started all three games for the USA at the U-17 Women's World ...
Should new refs be identified -- like in driver's ed?    
There are hundreds of soccer referee certification clinics held across the United States every year. Sadly, ...
Tab Ramos on new rules, U.S. progress, MLS and youth clubs     
Tab Ramos, a U.S. Hall of Famer whose playing career included three World Cups, is entering ...
Modernized NSCAA coaching courses have a touch of Mike 'Bert' Berticelli    
It was circa 1991 and I was a young high school teacher and coach in South ...
Boys Development Academy expands again -- adds U-15 division     
The U.S. Soccer Boys Development Academy, which launched in 2007 with two age groups, will be ...
Q&A with U.S. Soccer's top coach educator Nico Romeijn: On teaching the coaches    
The U.S. Soccer Federation hired Nico Romeijn of the Netherlands in June of 2015 as its ...
Troy Dayak leads thriving West Coast SC after 16 years of pro ball    
A hard-nosed defender during his 16-year pro career, mostly with the San Jose Earthquakes with which ...
Washington Youth Soccer reinstated by U.S. Youth Soccer    
In November, Washington Youth Soccer announced its aim to register its players solely with the U.S ...
The Best of 2016 in American Youth Soccer    
It wasn't all smooth sailing for American youth soccer in 2016. The turf wars between governing ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives