By Paul Giovanopoulos
Are our kids playing enough pickup ball?
There have been countless articles written about this. While we all agree that this is not happening enough, many of us just sit back and hope it starts to happen somehow on its own.
We hope that somehow they start playing at the schoolyard at recess, or they come home to text their friends to go to the local park and play.
Today’s suburbia logistics probably would not allow for this. So maybe we can organize pickup soccer. I know many of you just started laughing as it goes against the philosophy of the pickup game. However there is merit to this.
I am taking the steps this spring and summer to organize a pickup soccer day. What I mean by this, is reach out to all the soccer players in the neighborhood, set a place and time, bring up cones, balls, bibs, and then leave them alone for 90 minutes.
They can break up into teams themselves, and just play. No parents or coaches providing any type of advice or thoughts. They can ref themselves, keep score and keep time limits on their games.
As a kid growing up in Greece, I remember I could not wait to run to the local park and be selected for a team to play with my friends.
It was only kids, and we pretended to be our local heroes playing the game. There were 22 refs on the field. Every play was contested. Every offside, every foul, even the how were teams selected.
At the end it was so much fun, we couldn’t wait to do it again the next day. So often today, all we do is structured training sessions. We are sucking the fun and creativity out of the most beautiful game in the world.
(Paul Giovanopoulos of Media, Pa., coaches the Rose Tree Gunners U13.)
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