So, I am a Soccer Dad. Jake decided he wanted in on soccer this year, so we asked around and joined one of the local leagues. So far its been good. One practice and one game a week, and everyone seems pretty laid back. Oh, we want our kids to win of course, but no-one seems to be slipping steroids into the apple juice, and I have yet to see a gun pulled on a ref who made a bad call [ed. note, I wrote this before the most recent game. Still mostly true, but see below]. I will confess to occasionally being a tad overzealous in my encouragement.
Our team strikes me as decent, with a record 1-1-2, though the order of one win, one tie, and two losses strikes me as a bad trend.
Except for Jacob, this particular team is all girls. He doesn't seem to be too put out by this, which is what you might expect from an eight-year old. Trish noted this sort of thing is wasted on him now. In a few more years he'd kill to be the only boy on that soccer team.
With four games and about as many practices under his belt, I have to say that I think he's one of the two best players on the team. I know I'm a proud parent and all, but this is an easy call. After Jake and his partner in talent (actually, the gal might be better than he is -- I know she was better when the season started) you have an interesting trail downwards that would fit into almost any sports movie (the one with talent but not a lot of interest, the one who tries hard but isn't real good, the stolid plodders, etc.).
The biggest problem the team faces is a lack of aggression or assertiveness on the field. They do a bit too much of watching to see what will happen, as opposed to making something happen. Or at least that's what I think. We are trying to provide Jake with a few tips with that in mind, like always run fast etc, but I am doing my best not to try and say a word to the other players or to the coach. It ain't my place, and odds are she already knows. There are other suggestions I might be minded to make, but I'm not sure they would truly help or not.
On the other hand, they are starting to struggle against the 6 year olds practicing on the field next to them. I know the kids would like to win. I suppose I could start standing near our coach and make "innocent" observations like "You know, that pseudo-goalie thing seems to really help the other team" or "Y'know, when the other team gets the ball they always initially kick it hard and that keeps the ball down on our side all the time."
Or maybe I should just keep my mouth shut and let the team handle it. I dunno. I want to help, and I presume the kids want to win in order to have more fun playing, but I also don't want to get my ego involved. Take our last game. We had an unpleasant incident in which a boy from the opposing team threw the ball too hard after an out-of-bounds and painfully jammed one of our player's fingers. I didn't see it happen, so I don't know if the kid was overexcited or being mean or just frustrated, but they both took to crying, and both were out of the game. Then, we had a granddad of the hurt girl hassling the other kid's coach over the incident (the game did have a high incidence of hand-checking and stuff before this -- soccer is a rougher sport than most people think), well within earshot of the offending kid. The coach responded very defensively and not well at all. The boy's parents eventually took him over to the girl and he apologized, which I think was totally appropriate and good for both of the kids.
Anyway, the point is, I want the kids to do well, but I don't want to be either of those guys.