By Virgil Lewis
We must make a choice. Our sport is at a crossroads as to how it will be played. The choices are simple. We can play to win regardless of the cost or we can choose to have our sport played with values.
More and more I hear about volunteers who are being verbally and physically attacked. These include our referees, coaches and administrators. Our players also are the subject of the abuse. Some of the abuse is subtle. However, the pressure being exerted on our players is very real.
Why is this happening? We let it happen in many cases. We allow and even encourage coaches, parents and players to put winning as a priority. We must put values first in this game. Let’s not just give lip service to the fact that our children are playing for fun.
When I had the time to give coaching clinics, I would ask my candidates to look around the room for the World cup trophy. These coaches would look at me as if I had lost it. I would then remind the coaches that their players were not playing for the World Cup, but they were playing for fun.
We have all seen the answers when children are asked why they play. At the top of the list is fun. If we make sure our focus is value-centered the game will remain enjoyable for our children. It’s your choice to how this game will be played. We are the leaders of this sport, and I ask you to join in a nationwide effort to emphasize values in our game.
We need to make sure that the game does not lose soccership. Our players, coaches, referees and administrators must all participate within the laws of the game, most important, within the spirit of the game. That spirit is one of enjoyment. It allows players to play hard and fair on the field, and to be friends with their opponents after the game. That spirit allow players to enjoy well-played balls and moves, even when they belong to their opponent. This spirit allows us as leader of this sport to experience a deep sense of satisfaction as we watch the players we have trained grow into young men and women emotionally and physically developed in part because of the game and the values we have shared.
Former US Youth Soccer Chairman
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