For those of you new to soccer and the Beekman Youth Soccer Club (BYSC), welcome! Youíve joined an active club in a growing community in an exploding youth sport. Yes, Mom and Dad, youíre now soccer parents joining millions of other families cheering on their kids on Saturday mornings. But thereís more than just getting the shin guards together twice a week, isnít there? Can this lead anywhere? It certainly can, from simply helping your six-year-oldís U6 coach, to guiding your player through advanced teams and someday getting recognized enough to earn a partial scholarship to college or (dream on with me here) playing professionally.
U5 - For 4-year olds, the BYSC is developing a new collective training program to involve the parents more as well as teach the players their basic skills. See the accompanying article on our efforts in this area. The players should feel no pressure. The environment should be close to that of a pick-up game with some friends getting together in someoneís back yard. For the next couple years, the teams grow together in the U6 and U7 divisions.
U6 - division, games are still played micro style with 3 versus 3 using lots of guidance and often, little regard to many of the rules. The objective is for the players to learn that the game can be fun and exciting. Parents and coaches find dealing with the attention span of 5-year olds to be the primary challenge.
U7 - division is much of the same, but differentiation between the players becomes apparent and a goaltender is added to the team. The players are starting to learn teamwork more and understand better the objective of the game. In both the U6 and U7 divisions, seeing the progress in skills, teamwork and play from the beginning of the fall to the end of the spring is a tremendous reward for the coaches and parents. Some of the players have developed their individual skills and are beginning to understand the competitive aspect of the game by this time while others still just want to enjoy the companionship and excitement the game provides.
U8 - division, things change. The field and goals get bigger and there are 5 or 6 players on the field. A certified FIFA referee officiates U8 games in Beekman, giving the game a real soccer flavor. The games become more competitive but are still recreational. Standings arenít kept during the season but in-house tournaments are held at the end of the fall and spring seasons. Teams and players that have mastered passing and teamwork stand out by this time. Some 6- and 7- year old players try out for U9 travel teams in the spring.
When players start the U9 season, they have the opportunity to start playing more competitively with a travel team or continue with in-house play. Some players choose to play on both since in-house games are on Saturday morning and travel games are on Sunday afternoon. The word Ďtravelí is misleading, since in our area there are so many clubs close by, travel teams donít really travel much further than they do to our in-house fields.
To create enough in-house teams to form a division in Beekman, U9 and U10 players are combined into a single division. By the time the spring tournament comes around, play in the U9/U10 in-house division is recreational and fun to watch with good plays and competitive action.
This is the last opportunity for 9-year olds to play in-house. By this age many players have decided to play other sports or get involved in other activities, so there arenít enough players in the club to field a whole division of U11 or older teams. This is true of other soccer clubs in the area too, so in order to play recreationally, there is an intertown division, which is less competitive than travel soccer, but still involves playing teams from other clubs.
Beyond For those players who get involved with travel soccer, the opportunities are tremendous. The Hudson Valley has over 40 clubs with thousands of players all in close proximity which means the resources for watching good soccer, as well as learning and playing the game are all available. From overnight soccer camps, to premier level tournaments, to professional coaching and training, to state and national level competition, the Hudson Valley offers all these opportunities and more relatively conveniently.
The local high schools have nationally ranked soccer teams, with highly selective try outs. Needless to say, most players on these teams have been tuning their soccer skills since joining a U9 travel team.
Obviously, as a parent, you want to do your best to help your son or daughter match his desires with his abilities and opportunities. In terms of physical activity, teamwork and quick thinking, soccer offers a wealth of different opportunities, especially for a player in the BYSC.