Tuesday, March 24, 2009


On Saturday, the soccer team which I coach had its first "real" game. We played 2 games in one day 2 weeks ago, both against Academy teams (I coach a recreational team), both were considered friendlies. One was a close 4-3 loss, the other was one I'd rather forget.

Saturday was our redemption, we played against a team from a neighboring YMCA club, and won 7-0. With about 10 minutes to go in the first half, up 4-0, I put in my weakest goalie to give her some experience, and put my best all-around player (who was the starting goalie) on the field with one simple instruction...."go tell all your teammates that there is now a 3-pass requirement before you're allowed to shoot." At the next stoppage, she did just that, running to each player and telling them we had to have 3 passes before we were allowed to shoot. We could've scored 10-12 goals that day, but I refuse to run up a score more than necessary. I'm developing soccer players, not sadists.

After the game, I found that one of our better players had apparently been trash-talking the other team near the end of the game, telling them things like "you guys suck," and other such things. So, tonight at practice, I have to be in the difficult position to talk to her and her mother about her behavior, and how there is nothing worse in my mind than doing that. If she wants to do handstands on the field to celebrate a win, that's fine. But the kind of stuff you see in the NFL, to me, is completely classless and must be stopped at this age or it will only get worse. Having this talk is not something I am relishing, but I owe it to this girl to teach her the right way to behave. As Judge Smails once said, "I've sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn't want to do it. I felt I owed it to them." Well, I owe it to her to throw her under the bus in front of her mom (who I know will believe me, and will break a foot off in her daughter's butt on the way home from practice).

The coolest part of the game....one of my players stole the ball and went in on a breakaway. 15 feet from the goal, around where the goal box line is, she realized she didn't have her 3 passes. She turned, fired it back to a teammate, who fired it right back to the first girl, who launched it back to the second girl, who sent it back to the first girl, who then put it right in the net, with the defender and goalie running back and forth trying to keep up with the ball. Afterwards, the opposing coach said he was amazed at our ability to pass the ball.

In a game like that, anyone can run up the score. What I want to do is use that opportunity to teach the game the way it should be played.


  1. Passing is key. My Coach would be proud.

    And talking trash is terrible. That is one thing I really like about guys like Barry Sanders and Walter Payton: no flash, no smack, just let your talent do the talking for you. We could use more of that.

    Being sore losers is almost as bad in my opinion.

  2. You train the kids well and I like how you do it, better to bring a player down a peg or to now as in the future it could be them on the losing end and being talked to like trash!

  3. Glad to hear that your team found redemption with a solid victory.

    Trash talking and stuff, really does detract from the spectacle that is competitive sport. After reading the American football links that you provided one has to go WTF?

    It is so rare to see real sportsmanship at the top level these days. When one does see it, it really is refreshing. Good luck this weekend

  4. You see it fairly often in professional hockey in North America, but it's a self-regulating game. If someone takes a cheap-shot, you can bet the next time that guy is on the ice, someone on the other team will be waiting to level a solid check that may or may not leave the offending player with the ability to make it to the bench under his own power. Recently, a player made a comment how he banged another player's girlfriend, and that player was promptly suspended by his own team, and eventually cut. Hockey relies so much on a team philosophy that you don't want a cancer in the locker room.

  5. Class. If none of the pro leagues are going to stand up for sportsmanship (sportspersonship?) then hopefully the coaches of the next gen can get some decent ideas into their heads before they get to pro level - or much more likely go into the real world and have to deal with normal humans.

    The Sean Avery thing I thought was really interesting, particularly the response. If he was a cult-hero Australian cricketer he'd probably be lauded for the effectiveness of the sledge. I've got half an unwritten blog somewhere about that which I might finish off this week.

  6. Sean Avery is one of those odd players...if he's on your team, you love him, if he's on any other team, you want to see him shoved into a woodchipper. I would be in the latter category. In last year's playoffs, he stood in front of our goalie and waved his arms like a maniac to distract him. A rule was made the next day, outlawing such behavior. The amazing thing is, hockey's been played for over a century, and until then such a rule would've been unnecessary, simply because no player would've dreamed of such behavior. Avery's teammates were very embarrassed. So was his male lover, I imagine.

  7. Oh he's clearly a complete tool, that much is very obvious. The interest in wimmin's faaaaahhhhhshun doesn't exactly help him to appear a sympathetic character of course!

    I realise Avery isn't gay (unless he's compensating very bloody hard) but have any outwardly gay players made it in the NHL? Rugby League in Australia - probably the equivalent sport in terms of legalised aggression and violence intrinsic to the game - is the only football code here which has ever had one, Ian Roberts who played in the 80s and 90s and who was as tough as 40 bastards.

  8. Openly gay, no, but there have been some that have been questionable. For example, anyone that has ever played for the New York Rangers.

    And in all seriousness, a gay NHL'er wouldn't bother me. If he was tough enough to make it to the NHL, then he deserves to stay, as far as I'm concerned.