Saturday, September 29, 2012

Youth Soccer (or Get out of the way, my girl's better than you)

The following story is true. Names (and, to a degree, pictures) have been changed to protect me from being identified by the participants as a real prick who can’t deal with their kids.
My daughter plays soccer. She is six years old and loves playing the game. Last year was her first year playing on a team and she was fantastic. On average she scored 3 goals per game and made as many as 6 in one game. It was a lot of fun to watch.
This year my daughter is playing on a completely different team. Unfortunately this team has 8 kids on it that actually want to play all the time. Because they play 4 on 4, only half the team can play at any given time. The coach has decided the best way to divide up playing time is to come up with two teams of four and play them in alternating quarters. The teams are not always the same.

Awesome Girl (my daughter) 
Awesome Girl

Other Girl (not my daughter, the only other girl on the team, once wore a tank top that looked exactly like a wife-beater ribbed sleeveless t-shirt to practice

Other Girl

 Little Dude (little islander kid who goes to my daughter’s school and has a hilarious little sister)

Little Dude

Blondie (little blonde kid who can play well but has a short attention span and tends to cry easily)
Beaker (skinny little guy who is a little slower to develop than the rest of the players, the coach’s kid called him a stupid idiot at the first practice)

Coach’s Kid (good player, not what you might call sensitive to the feelings of others)

Coach's Kid

Big Kid (he’s as big as my 8 year old, faster than any other kid in the league and has some real soccer skills)
Big Kid

Wrong Way (close friends with Big Kid, whines when Big Kid has the ball and doesn’t pass to him, doesn’t know which goal is which, kicks the ball out of bounds more often than in bounds, yells at other kids when they are in the right)
Wrong Way

So, as I said the team is split into equal halves each game. Tonight Awesome Girl was put on a team with Beaker, Big Kid and Wrong Way. The only consistency so far with team selection is that Coach’s Kid and Big Kid have never been on the same team and Big Kid is always on the same team with Wrong Way. The truth is that most parents don’t want their kid playing at the same time as Big Kid because he’s so good. He has actually started passing recently, but he’s so much better and faster than the other kids that it’s hard for any of the rest of them to touch the ball when he’s in there. The exception is that Wrong Way’s parents always want he and Big Kid together because they’re friends. Their families are close  and there seems to be some kind of family agreement that Big Kid will pass to Wrong Way whenever he can.
Well, now think of this from my perspective tonight. Big Kid has an agreement to pass the ball to Wrong Way. When he’s unable to, he’s so fast that he’s dominating the ball anyway. Poor Beaker doesn’t really stand a chance out there and my little Awesome Girl is kind of lost in the mix trying to get to the ball, but being constantly out-raced to it by Big Kid.

Understand that we only get one game per week and it’s 40 minutes long. This means that I have exactly 20 minutes per week to watch Awesome Girl in action. The first thing that goes wrong tonight is when Beaker is taking a goal kick. This is when you stand by your own goal and pass to a teammate. Well, Wrong Way decided he would make a hard charge at Beaker right as he was kicking the ball, presumably because he was jealous Beaker got to kick it. He was succesful in his aggressive charge at his teammate and had the ball bounce right off his leg and into the other team’s goal. Wrong Way jumped up and down and looked over to his enormous mom. “I made it!” Well, Wrong Way has been instructed about a thousand times which way he’s supposed to be going, but he doesn’t care. A goal is a goal, no matter which end of the field it’s on. His mom tries to tell him that his goal doesn’t count, but he doesn’t get it. Because he doesn’t listen…ever. If I were coach I would tell him it’s not that the goal doesn’t count, it’s that you’ve just hurt your team and scored for your opponent. But I’m not the coach and that’s certianly for the best.
Well, after that Wrong Way’s parents decided to correct the problem by telling him to stand by the other goal. Which he did. Literally. He stood in the middle of the other goal like a goal keeper (there are no goalies at this age level). He was standing in the way of the goal so if any of his teammates were going to score he could stop the ball, turn and try to kick it in for his own glory. Imagine a waiter standing up against the bar to take drink order only to then turn and ask the bartender for the drink simply so he can steal the tips. Same thing. Oh, and the goals they use are about 4 feet wide, so he’s taking up most of the goal. It’s not like it’s a regulation size goal and it would be easy to score around him.
So the first quarter ends and Awesome Girl has played pretty hard, but hasn’t had the chance to score yet. She really wants to score because she hasn’t at all this year (mostly because of the way this team is set up). She is used to scoring every game but the parents think it’s cute when she comes close because she’s a girl. They don’t understand that she actually is a good soccer player. A few nights a week she has me set up obstacle course drills for her to navigate with her soccer ball. She runs these courses for upwards of an hour nonstop getting better and better. She’s talented, but she also works hard at it. I’m not just being a dad here, she’s actually a good player with skills that the other kids don’t have because she practices her butt off.

The last quarter begins and I have told Awesome Girl it’s her time to take that ball on her own and score no matter what. The first thing that happens is she has a shot at a breakaway at midfield. Well, she had a shot at a breakaway. It ended when Wrong Way jumped in front of her, bent over and picked up the ball right from in front of her foot. Thanks Wrong Way…it would be nice if your parents would tell you not to do that. I yell “No Wrong Way! What are you doing?!!??!?!?”
The next thing that happened was Awesome Girl came in from the side and was about to take a shot at a wide open goal. She was DEFINITELY going to score. That’s when Wrong Way came out of nowhere and stole the ball from her kicking it the wrong way back up the field. The ball came bounding back and Awesome Girl kicked it toward the goal, but there was Wrong Way standing right in the middle like a goal keeper and he succesfully took another goal away from my daughter. It was driving me INSANE!

Then Awesome Girl had yet another chance. I had just yelled “Get the ball and take it in yourself! Don’t let your teammate steal it from you! Score!” She did exactly that. She took it from the other team, dribbled in from the side, turned a tough angle shot into a more makeable one and kicked it hard at the middle of the goal. Problem was, there was Wrong Way standing there in the middle of the goal…like a goalie. And again he succesfully blocked the goal like he was Hope Solo in the World Cup.
Almost immediately the whistle blew and the game was over.
Maybe it was the caffeine in the Excedrin I took before the game. Maybe it was the smoke in the air from the forest fires. Maybe it was a paternal instinct to want the best for my daughter. But I can’t take this anymore! I’m losing my mind! I get to watch my amazing daughter play for 20 minutes of game action per week and without fail there is one single kid out there crapping all over her glory. I just want to shake his huge mother. Just shake her and ask her why she keeps allowing this to happen. Why? WHY? I want to shake the coach and shame him into making his own kid play with Big Kid and Wrong Way. I want to scream and yell at Wrong Way until I am the first person he has ever obeyed in his entire 6 years on this planet.
But instead I will continue to do what I always do…make comments under my breath on the sideline making the other parents think (realize) I’m a jerk. Listen, all I want is for my daughter to taste the success she derserves. Your kid doesn’t work for it. Your kid doesn’t give a crap. Your kid doesn’t even know what success is. He doesn’t know which way he’s going. He doesn’t care about anything except kicking the ball. It doesn’t matter which direction. It doesn’t matter if it’s in bounds or out of bounds. He doesn’t know the difference and you haven’t taken the time to teach him the difference. Please just tell him to get out of the way. Please!?!?!??!!?
Who knew being a parent was going to mean having to deal with other people’s kids? Bleh!

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