It started with one pass, when my kid was six years old. From the right sideline, with barely a glance, Sam I Am caressed a perfectly threaded diagonal through ball from beyond midfield, landing sweetly on the striker’s foot. The striker promptly toe punched it to the next field, but the seed was sown. It was there plain to see. My kid was good at soccer.
Since that pass, our family has been on a long walkabout in the desert that is the US Youth Soccer System. Wandering as uneducated gringos in search of golden pelotas, we’ve been through coaches, parents, politics, and not a small fortune. Our education was both slow, and in some sense, fast. Slow because it’s taken years. Fast because it finally hit us like a ton of bricks. The entire soccer culture in the US is broken, and all the King’s men don’t even know it.
In my gut, I knew we were being shoveled shit. All the English accents, the “technical” practices, the “development” buzzwords. Technical, tactical, physical, psychosocial. Drills and cones and pennies and the occasional f-bomb. But the soccer sucked. That too was plain to see. Most teams were terrible, even the “good” teams. Coaching consisted of throwing the kids on the field and telling them to ?work hard”. The pace was frenetic, the kids fast, the soccer unwatchable.
But we still love it. We love watching our kid play, even if we cringe every time we hear “send it!” or “nice kick!” from the parents. And the kid loves it too, loves to play. For now at least. But the one thing that makes the kid a good soccer player, is also creating questions. See, Sam is smart. Soccer smart, and worldly smart. A volatile mixture in US Youth Soccer. The kid sees the same things we do. “Why do all the clubs suck?” Good question kid. “Why does the coach say one thing in practice and another in games?” Interesting.
We don’t have all the answers, but we’re finally asking the right questions. And that’s what this site is about. A place to ask the right questions.
Really, it was only one pretty good pass. We should have let it go at that.