Cool Stuff about Soccer

Social Skills

The added benefit of soccer beyond simply getting exercise is that kids develop valuable social skills. Kids learn how to get along with others, be part of a team, and learn about tolerance, fairness and responsibility. Soccer can be a very good character building experience for a child. Character is meant as the total set of experiences the child gains by participating. In soccer a child will come in contact with rules, respect, teamwork, success and failure.

Soccer provides the environment in which kids can have those experiences. However, the adults define the environment. The adults play an important role in determining whether or not those experiences are positive or negative. If cheating, abusive behavior and violence are OK with the adults, bad habits will be passed on directly to the children.

Violence in soccer is completely intolerable no matter what the age or level of play. In soccer the same rules and expectations of conduct apply to adults and kids. This similarity provides a good role-model situation because the professionals are held to the same standards as the children. This consistency dramatically reduces the mixed messages on behavior kids receive in other professional sports.

The History of Soccer

Not much is known about the origin of soccer. However, football and ball kicking games were played by the Greeks and Romans. The first set of rules was developed by the London Football Association in 1863. British sailors and settlers brought the game to India, South America and Europe.

During the late 19th Century, soccer was brought to the United States. However, it did not prove popular until after World War I. In 1908, soccer was made an Olympic Event. Since 1952, Hungary has won the most Gold Medals, with three.

Even today, although it is an international game, it has been slow to gain popularity as an inter-collegiate sport in this country. It is however, gaining popularity and is being included in physical education programs in many schools. Also, many local communities have started youth soccer leagues for children of all ages.

Mini soccer is usually a 6 vs. 6 game. There is no offside and competitive play. Mini soccer is supposed to be recreational but some clubs have All-star programs. The focus is on participation and it is usually mandatory that all players play an equal amount of time. Mini soccer focuses on development, learning and participation. There are no direct free kicks. Foul throws are to be retaken so players can learn. Coaches are allowed to enter the field in the younger ages in order to talk to the kids.

Kids start to play full field soccer around age 11. The size of the field is not actually fixed. Instead, there are minimum and maximum lengths for the dimensions of the field. However, the penalty area and goal area remains fixed in size no matter how wide or long the field is. The rules in full field soccer are more competitive. Coaches are not allowed to enter the field of play to talk to the players. if you make a mistake on a throw-in, you lose the ball. Direct free kicks are also introduced in full field soccer. An additional rule for full field soccer is the offside rule. Positions play a more important role in full field soccer.

Fun Facts… did you know?

Players run as many as 6 or 7 miles during the course of a game.
Soccer is the world’s MOST popular team sport.
Pele, probably the greatest player to ever play soccer, called it “the beautiful game”.
Soccer-like games were played in China as many as 2000 years ago.
The proper name for soccer is “association football”.
The Romans played a game “harpastum” which was probably the origin of modern soccer.
Rules require that soccer be played on a rectangular field between 100 and 130 yards long, and between 50 and 100 yards wide.
A soccer ball measures between 27 and 28 inches in circumference.
A soccer ball weighs between 14 and 16 ounces.
The World Cup is soccer’s most coveted prize.
In Europe and South America, star soccer players are celebrities for life.
For the age group under 13, soccer participation ranked second after basketball.
At the end of the 1980’s, about 12 million North Americans under the age of 19 (37% of them girls) were playing organized soccer.

The Rules of The Game:

The rules of soccer are pretty simple. Players wear shirts, shorts, cleated shoes, and sometimes shin guards tucked inside their socks. The soccer ball is usually made of rubber or leather.

A soccer game begins with one team kicking off. Play continues constantly, stopping if the ball goes out of bounds, a foul is committed, or a goal is scored.

The referee is assisted by two linesmen, one on each sideline. Penalties against an opposing team are pushing, tripping, holding, striking, intentional kicking, and charging from behind. When these types of penalties occur, the referee awards a direct free kick against the opposing team. It takes place on the spot where the penalty occurred, unless the violation occurs in the offending team’s own penalty area. Then it is placed 12 yards from the goal, and only the goalie may try to defend the goal.

Other offences, which are considered not as severe are obstruction, offside, and dangerous play. The hands and arms may not be used to contact the ball unless you are the goalie. When these occur, an indirect free kick is awarded, meaning that one pass must be made before a goal can be scored.

When the ball goes out of bounds over the side lines, it is returned back into play with a two hand overhead throw, with both of the player’s feet touching the ground. When the ball goes over the goal line, but does not go into the goal, it is either a corner kick for the attacking team, or a free kick for the defending team.

Gary Korenberg