Last night Son #2 had a soccer game. He plays in a local U8 rec league, and his team has been having a pretty rough season. They throw the teams together at random, and there’s a good bit of variation in talent across teams. Last fall he was on a great team that went undefeated, but this spring his team is winless. It’s partly due to inexperienced kids and partly due to an inexperienced and soft spoken coach. Regardless, he’s been having fun. But last night just about put me over the edge…
In our area, the U8 teams play on “micro” fields and the coaches, who are on the field with the kids, double as the refs. It all started out okay. The game was relatively even, and the other coach seemed to be genuinely interested in keeping things fair. But as the game wore on, he got more and more aggressive, and started bending the rules further and further. I’m pretty sure this was mainly due to the soft-spoken nature of our coach, and the fact that she wasn’t calling them for any sort of infractions.
Here are a few highlights:
» Slide tackles are illegal in this age group (it’s a safety thing), but his team was doing them left and right.
» The defending team is supposed to stay back behind the center line on goal kicks (recall these are micro fields) but his players were jumping the line on every goal kick, even after people on the sidelines called it to his attention.
» When the ball went over our end line after one of our kids had kicked it, he started insisting that it was our goal kick instead of a corner kick. As far as I could tell, this was because they were having better luck stealing the goal kicks out in front of the goal (since they were jumping the midline) than they were having with corner kicks.
» On our kickoffs, his team kept creeping up until they were standing directly opposite the ball. When we asked him to back his team up (as per the rules) he just looked over at us and then told the kid (on our team!) standing nearest the ball to hurry up and kick it. One time he even set the ball up for our kickoff about five feet behind the center line.
And so on.
But what really got me was what he did after they built a 4-0 lead… He pulled his goalie! They normally play four-on-four with three on the field plus a goalie. In this case, however, he decided to pull his goalie and add a fourth attacker. At first I thought his kids were just confused about where they were supposed to be playing, so I asked from the sideline if he had intended to pull his goalie. His reply?
“Yep, I don’t have to play a goalie if I don’t want to.”
What a total prick. As it turns out, his kids didn’t actually get it — they kept trying to set up in the normal formation, but he’d go back and push the kid playing goalie up the field. Why? Presumably so they could run up the score. There’s no other explanation.
Oh well, as my lovely and talented wife pointed out, he may have gotten the upper hand on a bunch of seven year olds for one night, but he gets to be an overbearing jerk for the rest of his life.