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Dec 20, 2012   |  8:42PM AET

Why football is perfect for kids

Why football is perfect for kids

Mums love football. I know, because over the last six years that my kids have been playing the world game I’ve been talking on the sidelines. A lot.

Mums love football. I know, because over the last six years that my kids have been playing the world game I’ve been talking on the sidelines. A lot.

Okay, so I may have occasionally missed a great pass or the incredible unforgettable goal, but I’ve also delved into the minds of the modern ‘soccer mums’. And the one thing they all say is that football is perfect for kids because it’s simple.

First, the rules are easy. And I know that because I’ve been the coach, the manager, the screaming mum on the sideline and I’ve been pretty damn successful in all those roles.

Second, it’s a national sport – junior football clubs are everywhere. Mention that your child is interested in playing football at school pick-up and by drop-off the next morning, you’ll have been approached by a cavalcade of mums with registration details for your local club.

Third (and this is very popular in the minds of many mums), it’s a low contact game at junior levels.

With pride in their hearts and feeling pretty cool in their new outfits and shin pads, our kids took to the field for their first game with gusto and with very little chance of getting pummelled and winding up in hospital. They had no idea what to do, but without any training at all they ran out, had fun, gave it their best and, over the next few weeks, learnt a bit about the game.

Really the only minor hiccup we encountered was teaching the kids how to lose. In the first year they were completely hopeless. They loved it and didn’t have a clue that they were hopeless. All good.

The next year, they got better. In fact, they won every game for weeks and weeks.

The little darlings started high-fiving each other after every goal. Soon that became running around screaming and hugging after every goal (like the big guys). They thought they were invincible.

Although scores weren’t recorded, the kids were counting. And slowly, they started getting a bit cocky about their abilities. That’s when we had to organise a team pow wow.

It’s a game, we said to them, where you have to be gracious in victory and not rub it in if you’re lucky enough to win. Shake hands with the other team, we told them, whether you win or lose.

It helped enormously when they suddenly lost a game. It was good for them.

They were devastated and some even cried, but we reinforced our pow wow lessons, and they went home and thought about it all.

Now, they’re better players, in every way. That’s another reason why football is perfect for kids – they’re learning life lessons every week.

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