We jumped at the opportunity to enroll Lauris in a soccer program here in Greenville. Soccer is the sport he has shown most interest in playing, and as he’ll turn five next year we thought an organized sport would be a great opportunity for him to practice his English, interact with other kids and learn player/coach dynamics. Having dismissed Saturday leagues as they would eat up our family time, and some other options as simply being too far for us to drive once a week, the City of Greenville Parks & Rec youth soccer program seemed perfect.
With the coed U4 (for 3 year olds), U6 (ages 4-5), U8 (ages 6-7) and U10 (ages 8-9) divisions, the program covered a wide range of experience and age. U6 met Tuesday evenings in nearby Holmes Park for eight weeks: the first four covering the basics, the last four being non-competitive games. We ended up out on the field yesterday (despite it being week 10) as two evenings were rained out and rescheduled. Vilis was still very young the first weeks, so Lauris was accompanied by Mikus and dad or vecmamma Inga, who declared that never in her life had she been a soccer mom – “the things we do for our grandchildren!” Vilis and I made it to all four games, and so it came about that I learned how it really is to be that “soccer mom.”
The program is really focused on having fun and learning the fundamentals of soccer. There was no score kept during the games (although believe you me, the boys knew exactly how many goals had been scored and by which teams), and more attention was paid to skill development and encouraging the love of soccer in these young kids than to strategy and winning. I love how excited Lauris got about soccer, and the nights it rained he was heartbroken that practice was cancelled but already babbling about how great the next week would be.
But he is also 4 years old, and this is the reason why it’s hard being a soccer mom. It was clear from the beginning that no negativity would be tolerated from the parents, and a notice was sent out that the general philosophy was to build on qualities, techniques and skills of enrichment such as sportsmanship, teamwork, character, development, encouragement and fun. I think this is important for kids as young as Lauris, because it is easy to discourage kids from wanting to participate, but HOLY COW was it hard not to say anything!!! As a completely normal four year old, we had lying down on the field, inattentiveness to the ball and the game being played, a certain amount of chopping, wiggling and other goofing off, and the sort of stuff that drives a competitive spirit nuts!
So although there is the voice in the back of my head saying “we need to work on that” and “come on already, chase the ball not your shadow,” I’m proud of my little cleated Lion in green. Not only did he kick in the very first goal in the very first game, but he earned his first trophy and team shirt. We learned about kicking, dribbling and passing, and tried (mostly successfully) to give Coach our attention. Lauris played on a team for the first time, and he told anyone who would listen about the team, practice, the last game, the next game and the fun he is having for three months straight. Not only has he decided (already) that he wants to be a soccer player when he grows up, we’ve already registered him for basketball per his request. And now that we know we have such a wonderful program almost in our backyard, we’ll be registering Mikus next year for the U4 program – maybe by then I’ll have learned the proper soccer mom game-time cheers!
For information on the City of Greenville Parks and Rec department and the programs they sponsor please visit their website and facebook page.