Oh, what is there to say?
It is frustrating because “having fun” is the most important thing- at the expense of everything else. Nico’s team is a bit of a mess. But it’s AYSO- so we’re all just having fun. The problem is that the emphasis on “having fun” discounts the fun that can be had by learning how to play a sport well. By everyone being hyper vigilant about how it is all about having fun, the kids that ARE trying to learn how to play soccer (read: pass, trap, dribble, defend, and shoot) get penalized by the emphasis on “having fun”.
For example, there is a kid on Nico’s team that keeps picking the ball up in the run of play. Like, on purpose, in the middle of the field, picks the ball up when it comes to him. Now, it is not fair for the other team when this happens, so much of the time, a free kick is awarded whenever this kid picks the ball up. But because its AYSO and this is just for fun, no one feels all that great about yelling at this kid. Seriously- this isn’t something that happens once or twice a game. It usually happens 5 or 6 times in a game. Sometimes the kid runs away with the ball. But, its all funsies- so no one really gets after the kid. Because that is not the culture of AYSO.
So what does Nico do? Nico avoids playing the ball to his own team mate. I don’t blame him. And I would definitely do the same, if that kid were on my team. Nico has figured out that his team’s chances are better at accomplishing “playing soccer” if he doesn’t pass the ball to this kid, because there is a decent chance this kid will pick the ball up with his hands if it is played to him. So Nico sometimes takes the ball himself.
But what is learned here?
1) The kid still hasnt learned the rules of the game and that the rules apply to him.
2) All the kids think it is a great big joke. Ha ha ha, _____________ picked up the ball again.
3) Trust no one.
The thing is, that if we could take the kids in AYSO that “get it” it could be really fun. It is fun to learn to pass and trap the ball. It is fun to play soccer in a way that starts to approximate how the sport is played. Its fun to learn how to be an athlete- showing up to practice and games on time, having respect for coaches and the game and the rules. Its fun working on an identity of “soccer player”.
But this nonsense? I don’t know everything, but my guess is that this is why people leave.
Maybe I am being harsh. But still, that is not how you play soccer.