Hello! I’m your child’s new soccer coach for this season. I love soccer and have played for many years on a couple of different continents (ooh, impressive!), mostly many years ago. At present, the two best parts of my game are tripping over the ball and getting hurt. Sometimes, defying the critics, I do both at once.
Despite my own limits, I believe I have something to offer your children this season in soccer instruction. But I think there’s more to it than that. I believe this is a wonderful chance to learn and practice some things that might serve your children for their entire lives. At least that’s my sincere hope and prayer.
But let me be clear in saying that I think learning the game of soccer is a worthwhile pursuit and I will not be booby-trapping every moment of practice with cute little life lessons. We will definitely play and learn and enjoy the game.
Here’s a sample of that, a preview of what I hope will happen this year –Lord willing.
We will work hard. We will laugh hard. We will drink hard. (Water!)
I’ll keep repeating our team values. They are:
We will honor God above all. This has meaning for how we play, how I interact with the referees and other coaches, how the kids approach practice and games. It has profound, hard, and happy meanings we will explore all year.
I expect the kids to be respectful in how they speak to adults. I know this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but I am asking the kids to call me “Coach Smith,” not “Sam.” Sam is my name, but I believe it hurts children not a bit to use titles of respect for adults and might be of benefit to them. I am giving the kids a chance to do that this year. (I will be respectful to the kids as they learn this, of course.) They will also be asked to say “Yes, sir,” and “Yes, ma’m,” to the referees and other coaches, as well as to other parents who are involved (bringing snacks, or helping with drills).
We will respect each other. Each child on this team is made in the image of God and this means we will love and honor one another as teammates. We will not treat anyone differently because they are bigger, smaller, shorter, taller, darker, or lighter-skinned, boy, or girl. We will not run each other down, pick on the slowest/least-coordinated, or hurt each other. When we do hurt each other in any way (and we have to admit, we do mess up), we will apologize and ask for forgiveness. We will focus on building each other up. This is right and it also makes things more fun and more likely we’ll win some games.
(By the way, I want to win games.)
We will always treat our opponents with respect and dignity. We will never play dirty, hurt intentionally, or insult other team’s players. All the kids in this soccer league are made in God’s image and that will have meaning for us. I will have zero tolerance for bullying, or insulting behavior from our team. It’s a quick ticket to sit beside me on the bench.
We will never argue with the officials. This includes me. I may speak to the officials, but it will be with respect and self-control. When I mess up on this, I will apologize to the players and him, or her, and ask for forgiveness. As parents, I hope you will join our team in respecting the officials and opponents in every way. Note: Many of the officials are very young and inexperienced and will definitely make bad calls. So be ready for it. (Repeating to self. Repeating to self. Repeating to self.)
We will respect ourselves. I want your child to know that she (or he) is made in the image of God, and that has meaning for how they should think about themselves on and off the field. Part of what it means is that your child is loved, treasured, beautiful, and capable of amazing things. I see that. You see that. Let’s help her/him see that. This ought not produce a haughty, superior attitude, but one of happy humility and gratitude.
Respectfulness will characterize this team.
We will be a quick team and value speed.
First, we will be quick to listen. I ask the kids to meet a pretty high standard for paying attention and I hope to reward that attention with valuable instruction that moves them forward in the game and in life. We will be quick to listen.
We will be quick to the ball. We will not stand around and watch the other team play soccer. We aren’t spectators. We will relentlessly attack the ball (not the player) all over the field. We will do this cleanly, fairly, but with all our hearts. We will be quick to attack the ball.
We will be quick to our drills in practice.
We will be quick to complete throw-ins when the ball is out of bounds.
We will be quick to return to our spots when the ref calls a goal-kick, or corner-kick.
We will be quick to attack the goal.
I don’t really care how fast a child naturally is. We will do everything we can with the speed God has given us, bearing in mind the fable of the tortoise and the hare. The race is not always to the swift.
We are absolutely serious about having fun. The key to this, I believe, is in emphasizing thankfulness. If we are out playing soccer, we already have so much to be thankful for. We will operate out of this thankfulness and proceed to inevitable joy.
Soccer is so much fun! It’s a beautiful game, full of peaks and valleys, magical moments of victory and heartbreaking defeats. A soccer game is like poetry, a symphony, a parable of life. It’s the beautiful game. We will play it seriously, with a smile on our faces.
These are our values. There will be more, of course, but these will be emphasized all year long.
I want to summarize this little letter by saying that I will do my best to honor and serve your kids this season. I will be demanding, patient, emotional, hopeful, and most of all committed to seeing your child have a fun season that helps them mature and flourish as soccer players and human beings.
Grace and peace to you,