Scoreless soccer games better for kids, Hamilton association says

The Hamilton District Soccer Association has stopped counting goals

Ontario Soccer Association asks all teams to stop keeping score as of 2014

Soccer is going score-less all across Ontario by 2014, but teams in Hamilton haven't been keeping score for a few years. ((CBC))

The Hamilton District Soccer Association says 'scoreless' games help coaches focus on developing skills for young soccer players.

The Ontario Soccer Association toured Ontario this month talking to clubs about plans to eliminate scorekeeping from league games.

Some groups balked at the changes. But soccer teams in Hamiton stopped counting goals and tracking standings a couple of years ago, according to the president of the Hamilton District Soccer Association.

"We have a lot of progressive clubs," John Gibson said. "They're willing to adapt and they've been tremendously receptive."

The change was made so that coaches could focus on developing skills, particularly at a young age.

No champions, no losers

Here's how Ontario Soccer Association president Ron Smale put it on a recent blog post on the association website:

"If people are honest, the system in Ontario has for years been built on the backs of coaches poaching players and recruiting the biggest, fastest, oldest players they can," Smale wrote. "Parents and coaches yell 'kick it out, kick it out, get rid of the ball…' to alarmed children, all to tell them to get the ball up to the big, fast kid who can score and win the game.

"This leads to placing their team high in the standings and being 'promoted,'" Smale added. "But it’s not a real team when only a few players matter and skills are not being developed."

Gibson said some Hamilton parents questioned the change at first, but there have been few complaints.

He said there's no doubt players and most of their parents are keeping score during the game, "but we're not advertising the scores and standings on a website."

"There's no reflection on who is first and who is last," he added. "Sure there are no champions, but there are no losers either."

However, the change is presenting other challenges in Hamilton.

The new approach encourages smaller teams of four or five players instead of 10 or 11.

Gibson said that means there's a need for more coaches and more soccer pitches in the city.