There are those who suggest that there is already too much 'fun' in
Canadian soccer; that there is a recreational mentality about the game,
and that our player development system is geared more towards having
'fun' than developing the full potential of the players in the system.
would counter that argument by stating that the concepts of 'fun' and
'development' are not mutually exclusive - they should exist together in
a successful player development system
Every now and again, I'll come across an article or a video that strikes a chord. They often get saved or bookmarked for future reference, as the time is not always there to absorb their underlying messages.
Such is our world of instant gratification, of 140 character snippets of information - easy to process and even easier to forget.
But every now and again something comes along when you need it most - when you need something to restore your faith a little bit.
Like this video, sent to me by a good friend and colleague, just this week:
What I find striking about the video is not the level of ineptitude exhibited by the players, or their resilience in the face of such abject failure.
It is not the inevitability of their defeat, or that they are resigned to the fact that they will not score a goal.
What I find striking is the attitude of the parents.
They are not yelling and screaming at Ruth, Pol or Eduard to "boot it up the field" or "play your position!" They are not frothing at the mouth and seething with anger because their children have failed to score a goal, let alone win a game.
Nor are they threatening the coach, because he has failed to maximize their son's or daughter's chances of "making it" in the game.
They are simply enjoying the game; because they realize that the most important thing is that their children are enjoying the game.
Contrast this to what is on display on the sidelines of soccer fields across Canada, week after week.
Parents yelling and screaming instructions to their children, often contradicting the instructions of the coach, who is trying to teach the players the fundamentals of the game.
Verbal abuse leveled at referees - who are often just children themselves learning the game - because of the perception that winning matters above all else.
When I see behavior like this on the sidelines, I ask people this question: Why are you here, and who are you here for?
If the truthful answer is anything other than "the kids," it is the wrong answer.
While the "little team" video might be an exaggeration, it is not far removed from the experience that soccer should be in our country.
We should be giving kids a chance to learn the game, in an environment where they are challenged to work hard - while at the same time having fun.
For some, though, the concept of having 'fun' is a derisory term.
There are those who suggest that there is already too much 'fun' in Canadian soccer; that there is a recreational mentality about the game, and that our player development system is geared more towards having 'fun' than developing the full potential of the players in the system.
I would counter that argument by stating that the concepts of 'fun' and 'development' are not mutually exclusive - they should exist together in a successful player development system.
'Fun' for elite athletes is testing themselves against the best. It is about pushing themselves to the breaking point to see just how good they are. It is about asking questions of their technical, tactical, physical and mental abilities to see where their weaknesses lie - so that they can improve.
Ask any elite player when they leave the field after a challenging, demanding session, if they had 'fun' and the resounding answer would be "yes."
'Fun' for a competitive player is striving to be an elite player; to earn a place on a district, regional or provincial team; to learn new skills and gain a better understanding of the game from a tactical perspective.
'Fun' for a house league player is getting together with friends once or twice a week to enjoy a game of soccer; where the outcome of the game is largely irrelevant, and the enjoyment comes from participation and the friendships that are made along the way.
'Fun' should not be the antithesis of 'development' - the two concepts should be intertwined.
And if the players on the field, at every level of the game, are developing and having fun, shouldn't we, as parents, be doing the same thing?
Jason de VosFormer professional soccer player Jason de Vos brings more than 18 years of experience on the pitch to his analyst role on CBC's Major League Soccer and FIFA telecasts.
De Vos began his professional career with the Montreal Impact before joining Darlington in England in 1996. In 1998, De Vos joined Dundee United of the Scottish Premier League and later moved over to the English Premier League with Wigan Athletic and Ipswich Town FC before retiring at the end of the 2007-08 season.
The stalwart defender was also captain of Canada's national team from 1999 to 2004. He scored the winning goal in Canada's 2-0 victory over Colombia in the final of the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the only major international tournament the Canadian team has won.
Pittsburgh and Boston will meet in the Eastern Conference final for the first time since the Penguins swept the Bruins in 1992. Here's how the two teams measure up leading into their playoff matchup for 2013. more »
When Martin Brodeur joined the Hockey Night crew as a special guest analyst this week, we wanted to give you an opportunity to connect with him. Fans on Twitter asked one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time some questions, and his answers may surprise you. more »