Scoreless soccer considered for Calgary

The Calgary Minor Soccer Association might eliminate scoring in games for players under 12-years-old beginning this spring.
The Calgary Minor Soccer Association is considering the elimination of score-keeping in soccer games involving children under age 12. ((CBC))
The Calgary Minor Soccer Association might eliminate scoring in games for players under 12-years-old beginning this spring.

Scoreless games will improve team-building, skill development and be more fun for children, said Daryl Leinweber, the association's executive director.

And Leinweber is not worried that the elimination of scoring would stifle young players' competitive spirit, he said.

"You're born with it. Let's face it, you know, we're in a win situation every day of our life. So I think that naturally comes out," Leinweber said.

Sport Canada recently recommended that child sporting associations across the country focus less on winning and more on the game itself.

Hockey Calgary eliminated scoring for children eight-years-old and under several years ago, and the results have been positive, said executive director Perry Cavanagh.

"When they get into the next element of the game where we introduce them to competitive play, the children are definitely better hockey players than what we had seen in the past," he said.

Cavanagh admitted, though, that there is resistance to the idea.

Calgary coach Eddie Escobar, soccer director at the Edge School for Athletes, said he believes the move could help put the focus back on learning basic soccer skills, but admits it would be a hard sell.

"What's the most exciting aspect of the game? Scoring goals," said Escobar. "That's what everybody wants to see."

His players prove his point.

"Well, I see the little kids playing games and they score and they're just so happy," said Elissa Neff, 15.

"It's the best feeling in the world for me," said Kellen Kuipers.

Daryl Leinweber, executive director of the Calgary Minor Soccer Association, said he's not worried that the elimination of scoring would stifle young players' competitive spirit. ((CBC))
Calgary sports psychologist and former competitive athlete April Clay called the idea of going scoreless an "interesting experiment," but said the focus should be on educating parents and coaches.

"What are these kids focusing on in training, what are they focusing on at home when they talk to their parents about their sports and about their participation and what the meaning is behind it?"

Clay said the younger kids likely aren't paying attention to the score, and as they get old they're probably going to keep score in their heads, anyway.