In a number of countries soccer is a relatively new sport, and often parents have no knowledge of the local soccer scene or how to choose the right soccer club for their child. Selecting the right environment for your child is paramount to ensure that they enjoy playing soccer and develop, not only as fit and healthy soccer players, but even more importantly that they develop as good people, socially aware, able to deal with success and failure, embrace a team spirit and learn about responsibilities. Playing soccer can help develop all of these qualities as long as the environment that they are playing in endorses and promotes these qualities.
Your Initial Short List
It should be relatively easy to find a number of soccer clubs in your local area. Clubs normally belong to “An Association”, and often there are a few associations that operate in a city or area. For instance, in Melbourne, where I live, in a city of 4mil people there are at least 3 associations, The Football Federation of Victoria, The truc tiep bong da hom nay Churches League, and the Bayside League. A simple Google search for “soccer clubs Melbourne” should bring up a list of locally based soccer clubs, and from that list you should be able to narrow down to 5 or 6 that are local, say within 5km from where you live. By looking at the clubs website, you will probably be able to gauge how suitable the club is for further investigation.
A club visit
Before you take your child to a club, it is worthwhile to get in touch with the officials of the club to ask a few questions and further satisfy yourself that your child will be in a safe and nurturing learning environment. Having said that, most clubs are run by volunteers, unpaid mums and dads, just like you, so you may need to modify your expectations. Most of the admin work is done “out of hours” and also on a non paid volunteer basis, as is a lot of the coaching. So even though you may have a budding “Wayne Rooney” on your hands, don’t expect that the red carpet is laid out for you. Most clubs welcome new members and will treat you very well, but there is an expectation that parents will be able to assist too. Just remember that even though you are paying fees, the vast majority of grass roots clubs run on a shoe string budget and generally rely on well meaning parents to keep the ship afloat. I am heavily involved in the club that I played for, which is the same club that my two boys now play at. I have been involved in all aspects of the club, coaching, managing, fund raising and website building, you name it, I will have done it, and all for nothing – well nothing but the sheer joy of contributing and helping my club have a great environment for the children to play in.
Club Culture and Policies
A good club will generally have set policies for the teams, coaches, players, managers and parents to observe. Such things as playing time, team selection, volunteering duties, parental behaviour, coach selection and guidelines for team management are all part of the policies that a club should have. If the club website does not have this information, then contact the club and go and meet with the club officials to see what kind of guidelines they have set for the club and spend some time discussing how the club operates.