For many, summer equals soccer.
momstown moms have been talking soccer registration since January! Parents encourage soccer as a way to promote teamwork and sportsmanship and if our league is any indication, it clearly supports the stats that soccer is the fastest growing children’s sport in Canada.
Only 3 years into my soccer parent life but I already have a ton to share. Here are my cheeky “tips” to help soccer rookie parents with preschoolers and kindies gear up for the season:
1. Invest in a good folding travel chair and travel mug. This is the beginning of the big leagues – you may as well get comfortable on the sidelines. Some chairs have an attachable umbrella – splurge as soccer fields are notoriously hot & sunny and you will forget the sunscreen.
2. If you have other younger children who will be with you – forget the chair, invest in binoculars. This way, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the game your kid is in as you chase the younger child around/off the field or from the attached playground. You didn’t think you’d actually be able to see any of the game did you?
3. Rock the snack duty & don’t forget your turn! Long gone are the good old days of orange segments and communal water jugs. I guess the U6 crowd doesn’t like oranges as parents get pretty fancy and creative with freezies, yogurt tubes, watermelon and various nut-free treats. You get the picture. Snack is important.
4. Team picture day is chaos, inconvenient but important. Don’t miss it. Your child will tape that team picture to her wall and reminisce about her “Apple Cinnamon” teammates all winter long. Then the year she was a “Bronco” she was away on picture day – you will never hear the end of it. Ever.
5. If you invite spectators don’t tell them “we’re the blue team”. A regular field will be turned sideways and have 8-10 mini teams playing on it. Most of them some shade of blue and many duplicates. Those poor grandparents will easily sit at the wrong game before they realise the ponytailed blue #4 is actually not their granddaughter.
6. Cheer loudly and for everyone. Even the other team. I know this goes against what you want to do. Drown your competitive spirit – otherwise you‘ll just want to bang your head against the foldable goal posts. Remember your travel mug? Fill it with something fun and this will be easier. (Don’t tell anyone I suggested this!)
7. Keep expectations low. Your kid is not going to end the season a mini David Beckham. Despite parental seriousness, this is still the daisy-picking league. Kids will routinely run the wrong way and tag team on their own goalie. Or ballet dance her way through the field. Remind yourself, you paid money so your kid could have the experience of wearing a new jersey, eat fun snacks and pirouette across a field. It’s called soccer in name only.
8. Learn the parent’s names. You’re going to be sitting with them all summer, it’s just a whole lot more comfortable if you connect right away than wait until the last game introduce yourself like a goofball.
9. Offer to help the coach out. They are all volunteer parents and actually stepped up so you didn’t have to! Be kind to your coach – coaching mini soccer can be like herding cats and equally frustrating.
10. Pre-game Nap. It’s called the Soccer Sleep in our house as all games are after dinner and a full day of fun. A little siesta can mean the difference between an energetic player and an exhausted sobbing kid who doesn’t enjoy herself (and neither do the parents).
Get out there and enjoy your kid, the game and the scenery. You are now officially a parent spectator!