Changing the Game Project

I managed to see some exciting games over the past weekend across the divisions! It was particularly encouraging to see parent coaches trying to keep games competitive by changing up positions of players and asking their teams to focus on other things (eg passing) other than scoring their next goal (I appreciate this can be a tough thing to communicate to younger players!) The response and positive emails I received from parents about introducing the ”mercy rule” was extremely encouraging. I’d like to thank you for your continued support in implementing this approach/style of play.

A couple of weeks ago the DUSC coaches went to the National Soccer Convention in PA. Amongst the various seminars and workshops over the 5 day event was a session run by John O'Sullivan, founder of Changing the Game Project. 

The mission of Changing the Game Project is to return youth sports back to children, and put the “play” back in ”play ball.” 

John gave some interesting insights from his studies around youth sport & soccer that I wanted to share with you:

Why do kids play sport/soccer? 

  • To have fun (always #1)
  • To do something they are good at
  • To improve their skills
  • To get exercise and stay in shape
  • To be part of a team
  • Excitement of competition

Why do kids quit playing sport/soccer?

  • Criticism and yelling
  • No playing time
  • Emphasis on winning
  • Poor communication
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Boredom
  • Not learning

Having read and digested this information, it became apparent that as coaches, parents and volunteers our job is really to create an environment (on and off the field of play) that is positive, fun and that gives players an opportunity to communicate about their soccer experience. Our aim should be to cultivate an atmosphere where players can learn from their mistakes, where we share positive feedback, and where it's OK to lose as long as we are trying our best to be competitive. 

All this is about keeping children playing soccer as long as possible, or any other sport, and not dropping out of the game through having a bad experience. We need to value our players as individuals first and soccer players second. Ultimately children, whether we are talking about soccer or fly fishing, don't care how much we know until they know how much we care.

You can find more information on Changing The Game Project here:

As always, please feel free to get in touch with any comments, thoughts or suggestions on how we can improve our program