By Eric Conte, Program Support Specialist
Soccer, or futbol, is the beautiful game I fell in love with as a youngster. It is by far and away the most popular sport in the world, you’d be hard pressed to find another sport that spans the globe like soccer does. The governing body for professional/international soccer, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), recognizes 211 nations as eligible to compete for the World Cup, yet there are only 195 countries in the world. My goal was to bring the world’s game to UCDS in some capacity. Last Spring, I teamed up with Specialist Jesse Burns to do just that, we created what is now Early Elementary soccer skills. Our club is open for any skill level!
The typical session can look a lot of different ways, however we always starts off with a dribbling warm-up, where players get more than 100 touches on the ball in 5 minutes. We work on dribbling with both feet, doing specific skill moves/turns, all while varying speed. After the dribbling warm up, we usually play a game to give players live looks at dribbling against defenders. This allows them to start recognizing when and where to use their specific types of touches on the ball. Depending on the week, we sometimes continue with the theme of dribbling, or we transition to the basics of passing or defending. One favorite mini games is Sharks and Minnows, where players have to dribble across the gym without getting their ball kicked out by one of the hungry sharks waiting for them in the middle!
We intentionally structure our sessions, and the mini games we play, to maximize the time kids have a ball at their feet, while also growing their love for the sport! The more touches the better. It is the foundation of the game and it is the most key to hit it while kids are starting out. The rules of the game, tactics, strategy, etc. all are important but they don’t mean anything until they possess some basic ball skills.
Jesse and I have had nothing but a blast running this club! We are excited to continue sharing our love of the game with the kids. Soccer has had a tremendous impact on my life and I am grateful I get to now help continue to grow the game locally and nationally. (We all know the Men’s national team needs some help… Not so much the Women’s side who’s won the last 2 world cups!!) Soccer is a game that can be played recreationally by ages 3-65+! (I swear, there are 65+ leagues here in Seattle!) It’s never too early to start getting kids touches on the ball. Every little touch adds up over time, and can open plenty of doors down the road if you’re lucky! Soccer may not end up being for everyone kid in the long run but I am so happy to see everyone and anyone come out and have a blast at Early Elementary soccer skills!