What is the most fun thing about playing soccer?
That’s the question I set out to answer when I attended my local club’s house league kick-off day. As I stood at the front entrance of the indoor turf field, I could feel the excitement, anticipation, and anxiety in the air.
For some, it would be their rookie season. A season of firsts – first pass, first goal, first time being part of a team. For others, a summer tradition was beginning yet again. Regardless of prior experience, I wanted to know the surprising things that kids loved about soccer. And for the newbies, what were they looking forward to most?
Not so shockingly, scoring goals was the most popular answer across the board. And why wouldn’t it be? Scoring goals is the essence of soccer. But this shouldn’t be confused with winning, which accounted for only one answer during the entire day.
The reaction after a child scores their first goal is one of the most defining moments for me in the game. It’s pure joy. So I wasn’t surprised when so many children categorized scoring as the most fun part of soccer.
In close second, which initially puzzled me, was kicking the ball. Kicking is a fundamental movement skill in soccer, and one that can be difficult to learn. Most children first kick a ball using their toe, frequently called a “toe punt” in the soccer community.
However, kicking with the instep or “laces”, as I like to coach, requires considerable coordination and strength. It’s no wonder kids love kicking the ball once learned correctly, it’s a hard skill to master! And kicking sometimes leads to the best part of soccer: scoring.
These are two of the many fun things about playing soccer. Kicking the ball and scoring goals are essential parts of the sport, but not all reasons for playing have to do with the game. Getting a new jersey, bonding with teammates, and making up cheers are all parts of soccer that kids love.
It brings a new perspective to the saying, “Winning isn’t everything.” But oranges at half-time just might be.
Fun things about playing soccer (in no particular order):
- Running fast
- “My friends on my street are on my team”
- ‘Deking’ out players (fave move: nutmeg)
- “Being #5 like my brother”
- “The feeling you get when you score a goal”
- Half-time snack
- Meeting new people
- Playing defence
- “Scoring 100 goals”
- Dancing in the change room
- Goal celebrations
- “Playing goalie because I get to hold the ball”
- Teamwork and passing
- Learning new ‘moves’
- “My dad is my coach” / “My mom is my coach”
- “Playing again”