Have you ever tried to herd cats? I haven’t either, but I imagine it to be very similar to coaching U7 boys soccer. There are only 11 boys on the team, but it feels like there are closer to 57 most days. And trying to do anything organized with 11 (or 57) kindergarten/1st grade boys is next to impossible.
We have a few kids that have great skills and are amazing. And while there is some attitude issues with a couple of them we have one that I just want to clone and have a team full of boys like him. And then we have a few kids who are scared of the ball. Like my son. Or are far more interested in anything else besides the game/practice that is going on. Like the fire truck that just drove by, or the clouds overhead or the fact that the grass is green. We have one boy whose arms and legs grew way too fast for his body and he can’t quite stay upright without tripping over his feet or hands or blade of grass. We have one little guy who has yet to play an entire quarter (10 minutes with clock continuing to run) without some sort of injury that requires him to come out of the game.
6 and 7 year old boys do not possess the ability to keep their hands to themselves. I think it is physically impossible for them. Or to avoid pulling grass and throwing it at someone or something. Or not talking. In fact there are a lot of things that 6 and 7 year old boys seem to be unable to do.
But honestly despite all the craziness and such it has been a lot of fun so far. Granted there are lots of “No please don’t climb the goalie net, the ball is coming towards you and you are the goalie so please watch the game” and “Let’s not punch our teammates” and “if you aren’t looking at me with mouths closed you won’t know what to do next”. I have learned who to separate when we break into small groups during practice and how to keep the focus back on the ball and the activity and not on whatever else might be close by. And it has been neat to watch just over a few weeks these boys grow and develop and gain some skills and see the light bulbs click on.
The refs know that for many of these boys it is their first exposures to the game and are very forgiving and sometimes just smile and shake their head and let whatever it was just pass. And the parents have been super supportive and encouraging to all the boys. And talking with the other coaches as we are standing on the sidelines during the game sometimes cheering, sometimes laughing, sometimes just shaking our heads, that we are all dealing with similar groups of kids and the goal is to have fun and maybe learn a little soccer along the way.
And the best part after each game is watching the parents line up along the center of the field and make a tunnel that the boys run through at top speeds. They smile and laugh and I think it is the highlight of their day and game. They are all celebrated, whether the actual stars of the game or not their smiles all say that they feel like a million bucks walking off that field.