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Mini soccer, the child-sized game.

Not so many years ago, when my now-adult son began playing Rep soccer for the old Willowdale Blues club, seven-year-olds played the adult game. 11-a-side, on fields 100 yards or more in length, with full-size goals. Games resembled a pack of Smurfs turned loose on the prairie! Some kids might not touch a ball all game long — and the unfortunate mites who played in goal looked like they were guarding a subway tunnel, 24 feet by 8 feet high. It might have been “cute” to watch, but it wasn’t much fun for most of the kids.
Fortunately, in the early 1980s, a new idea arrived from Europe. Mini soccer. A game scaled down to a size proportioned for small children and short legs. The fields and goals were shrunk to sensible sizes, the number of players on the field was reduced, and size 3 balls were introduced for the youngest age-groups.

Like any new idea, it took time for mini soccer to become widely accepted. Many soccer veterans dismissed it as not “real” soccer. (“Hey…11-a-side was good enough for me when I was a kid!”) And there are still a few die-hard disbelievers today who are convinced the scaled-down game is a subversive plot. However, after 20 years, mini soccer has proven itself as the ideal introduction to the world’s “beautiful game”.

For young beginners, mini soccer delivers two key benefits: more fun, and better learning. The two go hand in hand. With fewer players on a smaller field, every child is involved in the game — and not left to pick daisies in a distant corner of the field. Each player gets more “touches” of the ball… the ball is of a size that a 5, 6 or 7-year-old can manage… and a 7-year-old no longer has to deal with the deep mysteries of “offside”. In short, mini soccer is child sized and child-friendly.

The actual format of mini soccer differs from club to club — usually influenced by the available facilities. Ideally, ages 5 and 6 should play 4 vs 4, with very small goals and no goalkeepers. Older children should play 5, 6 or 7-side… and the full 11-a-side game should not be introduced until U-10 at the earliest. The problem for city clubs such as ours is that we must use whatever school fields or parks are assigned to us, and generally cannot set them up the way we might wish. At Spartacus, our house leagues all play 7-a-side on school fields at C. H. Best school. It’s not the perfect solution that coaches would prefer, but it is a vast improvement on the dark ages of 7-year-olds “lost in space” on full-size fields.

 

Bryan L. Pinn
Head Coach, Spartacus SC,
Team Coach, Spartacus 89s
┬ęCopyright 2001

 

 
 
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