When I was a kid I spent the vast majority of my time with a soccer ball pretty much tied to my feet. From first light until the dying embers of the suns last rays you would find me out on the street kickingaball around with my friends. The love of the game eventually led to me playing for my school team, as well as a local club in my small town. That led to me spending 6 days of the week either playing or training, but during that time I gave very little thought to the men who gave of their free time to teach us the finer points of the game.
My father could recount all the details from games played years earlier and even name each of the individual players that took part in those matches, yet he never took the time to really tell me anything about how to play. He did take me to professional games every Saturday afternoon, so I suppose that he did play a part in seeing that I got to know a little about how the game was supposed to be played. It was those volunteers that made the real difference though, and while I quickly realized that my talent would never match my ambition, I did learn a lot under those men.
When I had a son of my own I had moved from Scotland to Canada, and eventually the US, but he quickly developed my love of the game, and all sport in general. Soccer was the game that he really wanted to play though, so I gladly signed him up when he was 5 years old and eligible to play in organized leagues. What quickly became apparent is that as much as soccer is still growing in the US, there is still a paucity of people who know enough about the game to actually try and take the time to teach it.
A call from the local soccer association made it clear that they were struggling for volunteers, and upon hearing my accent they seized upon the opportunity of talking me into coaching. It seems that an accent that is anything other than North American in origin is a sure sign that soccer is somehow in your blood, which I guess is actually right. I am a horribly shy person and the thought of dealing with the parents was not one that appealed to me, but I was fortunate in having a group that was very much hands off. They allowed me to do my thing, and before long the kids were starting to show some real signs of progress.
I grew to love the coaching side of the game and ended up having many parents request that their kids be on my team at the start of the next season. As with most kids, my son grew out of playing soccer and decided that he wanted to play football instead. His schedule clashed with the soccer schedule so I was forced to quit so that I could follow his football progress. I still cherish those years working with the kids though, and recommend it to every parent; it’s a simple way to make a real positive impact on a child’s life.