A defender with the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Irish national program, Ciara McCormack launched the girlsCAN Soccer Foundation in 2002 and trains, among others, eight-year-old girls.
A promoter of equal opportunity soccer, she emphasizes the need for sound training and solid developmental coaching for girls and young women as well as the importance of female coaches and sport leaders.
Stressing that soccer be enjoyable, social and skill-building if girls are to continue playing, last Wednesday McCormack took over-zealous parents to task in a column she penned for the Province, titled "Don't let pushy parents spoil the fun."
"What I witnessed horrified me," she wrote of the sidelines at a match between seven-year-olds. The intensity was akin to Stanley Cup playoffs. Riotous? I wasn't there. But McCormack nails the stereotype in the portrayal of a father who could recite his daughter's full season of stats and pushed that she be advanced to an older team. The girl, whatever her footwork genius, wanted to stay on the same team as her friend.
Although she somewhat eye-rollingly describes the young, "vulnerable" players as parent-pleasing "innocent little girls littered with pigtails and ponytails," McCormack provides excellent advice for coaches and parents. Forget kick-and-run soccer. The mindless ball chasing undermines the fineness potential of player's creativity and does nothing to develop individual and team passing skills.
"Don't get caught up in winning and losing," she says. "Define your success at the end of the season as the number of players you retain to soccer and how much improvement you see in your players in technical skill and tactical understanding." Score.
Specifically for spectators: zip it. Winning and losing are important aspects of competition since they teach good sportsmanship. There's no chance of that happening, however, if those kids drop out.
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