According to a worldwide survey launched by FIFA, more than 240 million people regularly play soccer with a fan base of around 3.5 billion worldwide! This makes soccer the most popular sport in the world. American football is the focus in the U.S. is but did you know that worldwide table tennis is actually more popular?
The United States is relatively new to soccer compared to other countries, but that’s changing quickly. In the ‘70s and ‘80s when I grew up, you would be lucky to even hear a mention of soccer on the television. Fast forward to 2014 and the United States became the largest consumer of tickets for the Brazil World Cup and studies have shown that U.S. interest in soccer is growing exponentially.
So why is soccer great for kids?
You can spend more time with your kids
I’m an assistant soccer coach at Carrollton Boosters in New Orleans. I became interested in the program because I wanted to find a sport that would fit well with my son’s boundless energy. In his first season I sat on the sidelines and watched, but in the second season I couldn’t sit idle anymore, so I became a coach. My son takes great pride in the fact that his dad is also his soccer coach.
But if you cannot become a coach you’ll definitely become a fan even if you don’t know anything about the sport. It’s very exciting to sit on the sidelines and watch your child play — and your child will build a great sense of pride in knowing that you’re there.
Soccer builds life balance
If your children are anything like my son, they plan their after school activities around watching TV or playing video games (my wife and I would prefer that he spends his time reading books and creating art). Soccer forces your child to prioritize their daily lives beyond just homework. They learn that if they want to be as good as the rest of the kids, they need to practice. This gives them less time to become couch potatoes and builds life balance.
Soccer builds self-confidence
I’ve seen first-hand how my son’s self-confidence and social skills have increased. Playing on a team has forced him to interact in ways that he cannot learn at school. To succeed at soccer, your child must learn to communicate and cooperate. Passing is one of the most important aspects of soccer and it requires your child to focus on both physical and vocal queues while under pressure.
There are less chances for humiliation on the soccer field compared with individual sports. When things go wrong, it’s a team failure. This is not always the case however, but I’ve found that when an individual mistake is made, both the team and the crowd rally behind the child to let them know that it’s ok.
Soccer builds a healthy body
Soccer is one of the best ways for children to get into top physical shape. In professional soccer players can run as much as 10,000 meters (6.2 miles) in a single game. But the games are shorter in youth soccer. So let’s assume that your child only runs 1/2th of what the pros do — 3 miles. This kind of endurance running builds long and short muscle fibers as well as aerobic/anaerobic capabilities.
The benefits of soccer — life balance, social skills, teamwork, self-confidence, improved health and more — can be carried and applied throughout your child’s life. Click here to learn more about youth soccer in your area.