On a beautiful Saturday morning I sat at my usual corner of the soccer field and watched a U14 league game. The game was exciting and both teams played with all their heart. Our boys were determined to score and were ready to do so when a sudden wrong move let them miss this opportunity. The game went on…. However, I noticed the coach reprimanding one of the players on the bench. Apparently the boy had laughed at the mistake of his teammate and made a crude remark.
That made me think of how important it is to teach players sportsmanship along with the fundamentals of the game. I often compare a team to the muscles of the human heart. When one muscle contracts it signals all the adjoining muscles to contract at the same time. A team must play in unison. Players must support each other and develop an understanding and friendship that will help them on the playing field as well as in life.
The role of the coach in implementing good relationships between players is as important as teaching them to play the game. To quote Coach Frank Cannizzaro: “What does it mean when someone says that a team has great chemistry? My interpretation of this is that the players on a team mix well with one another. They all respect one another and they work together to achieve a common goal: the team’s success.”
Parents also have an important role in developing good relationship among players. They should teach their child to be humble even if he or she is the more experienced and talented player on the team. Less experienced players should be helped and supported by their teammates, not criticized and left aside in the game.
Parents on the sidelines should encourage and support not only their own son or daughter when a goal is scored but the whole team, whether they win or lose.In our competitive society, winning at all costs is the rule. However, wining at the cost of foul play, of selfish success and of betraying friendships teaches young soccer players to repeat this behavior in life. Honesty, tolerance, and friendship must be the guiding rule in sports, rather than the ambition to be the triumphant winner.
Personally, I take great pleasure in watching a soccer game when the team plays together, just like the muscles of the heart.
Dr. Gabriel Nigrin (DOC)
Founder, Silver Lake Soccer