As the sport of soccer continues to gain in popularity throughout the United States it is important to monitor the effects of this growth. As we have already witnessed, growth in any sport in this country can bring about both positive and negative
ripples, especially given the emphasis our society places on sports. For every new and exciting development in a sport there also can be a new and often disturbing challenge that must be overcome if the sport is to continue to move forward. Soccer has its share of challenges for the future. In fact, one could argue that soccer might have more challenges than any other sport at this time, since it is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. One challenge that is becoming increasingly alarming is the role of the parent toward their soccer-playing child. These are the new millennium soccer Moms and Dads. While most parents have generously given their time to become coaches, administrators, referees and supportive fans for the benefit of their children, many others have become overly involved in their children's soccer life to the detriment of his or her development and the game. These parents put too much pressure on their children in the hope that they will make a national team or earn a college scholarship. Instead of parents taking a supportive role they become agent and negotiator sheltering their children from the true lessons that the game can instill. Lessons like overcoming adversity, taking responsibility, setting goals, working together for a common cause, and respecting authority to name just a few. The results are young players who cannot think or act independently, lack creativity and ultimately who lose their love and desire to play the game.
“To play the game is great! To win the game is greater! To love the game is the greatest of all!” This quote is on a plaque inside the lobby of the famed Philadelphia Palestra. It says what most elite athletes already know. In developing their children in the game of soccer the best parents(and a youth coach) can do is to help instill a love for the game. No athlete ever made it at the highest level without a real and undying love for the game. The love is what makes players train hard, the love is what makes players sacrifice for, the love helps players overcome adversity and the love makes them reach for their dreams. This love cannot be coerced, pressured, or forced. It must be nurtured and has to develop through both positive and negative experiences.

The Purpose of Playing Youth Soccer

With so much focus on winning and giving children a competitive advantage, it can be hard for parents to remember the first purpose of playing youth soccer. Here are the first reason you sign them up for soccer.
They teach life skills.  Kids involved in youth soccer learn much more than the technique required for .  They learn how to interact with peers, deal with stress and deadlines, manage the disappointment of losing, handle winning with grace, and so much more.  Kids could learn these life skills outside of soccer, of course, but soccer give them a safe space to learn and develop.
They encourage goal setting and follow-through.  Most soccer teams have team goals, and most coaches encourage personal goals. Through soccer, kids can learn to set realistic goals and work to achieve them.  They can draw conclusions about the benefits of following through on their commitments to themselves and others.
Athletes stay physically active.  A 2010 study showed 61% of Americans are either overweight or obese.  Soccer and other physical activities can keep kids from joining that number.  A healthy weight and healthy outlook on activity sets kids on a path to lower their risk for diseases and other health complications.
Athletes have safe, clean fun.  With parents working long hours, kids often have significant time to themselves.  Bored kids with little oversight can get into destructive habits.  Soccer gives them an outlet for their energy, keeps them engaged outside of school, inserts some structure and rules into their free time, and encourages them to stay clean while having fun.
Athletes learn about cause and effect.  Athletes can draw a clear conclusion from their participation in soccer.  They get quick feedback about their performance, and can see that if they choose to practice and be serious, they will perform better than if they do not.  They might also learn that cooperating with the team helps everyone work together better.  Because the feedback cycle is short (the amount of time between games), kids stay excited and engaged in the activity.
In none of these explanations is the word “winning” the focus.  This is because youth soccer shouldn’t only be about winning.  The outcome of a competition will always produce a winner and a loser, and this is something athletes should learn to appreciate and deal with.  However, the purpose of game itself is not to crush the competition at all costs.
This is often difficult for parents to remember,