Soccer may be the perfect sport for children. To participate, the child does not  have to be big, tall or, strong or even fast. It is also a sport open to both genders.  Although the aforementioned physical attributes are a  plus,  the reality is that at certain age ranges there are no great differences in muscular development, coordination or strength. .Hence, you will see boys and girls playing on the same team an nearly equal level.  This is one of the reasons why in youth soccer (particularly at the youngest ages),  the winning team is oftimes the luckiest, as opposed to the most technically skilled.  For the purpose of this article, we are not referring to those youth leagues or clubs who are preparing it's kids for international competitions, but rather local school teams and community based leagues which exist primarily to offer kids an opportunity to learn a new sport, meet new friends and just have fun.   

Then there is the financial factor. Unlike other sports such as hockey or baseball where the equipment  is often quite costly, soccer is a sport where with the exception of a few pads and gloves (for the goalie) there is no significant cost factor.  In some places it is not uncommon to see kids kicking around rolled clothing, cans etc.  In addition, the playing field can be anywhere a little open space can be found.

The third factor making soccer popular particularly amongst parents is the injury factor, or rather the relatively small number of injuries. Of course there will be bruised shins and knees as there are in most sports; but the most serious injuries are relatively non existent in soccer  particularly in the absence of sliding tackles practiced and encouraged adult level.  But even in the adult leagues,. certain techniques such as the rear tackle are being outlawed to reduce career shortening  injuries.

Overall,  soccer is a game where everyone can learn and have fun. It provides an opportunity for boys and girls at the earliest ages to improve coordination, balance, and cardiovascular conditioning.

The psychological and emotional  benefits cannot be overlooked  The child who experiences defeat during play, can learn resilience and persistence; attriibutes which the individual can carry throughout his/her life.

Thus for the above reasons particularly financial, soccer is played by more youths than any other sport in the world. As you are aware, in Eastern, Middle Eastern and European countries, soccer or "football "as it is called,  is the national sport.  Even in America ,where the "bat and ball" are king, it has been estimated that there are more youths playing soccer than enrolled in little league baseball and youth football combined.

During the course of a series of articles we will introduce you  to youth soccer organizations here in America, and in future editions examine the sport as it is organized and praticed in other countries. An overall view of soccer in American schools will be examined, from the grammar school level through college. We will alsoi provide links to webpages giving you the opportunity to visit the school teams, summer leagues and camps through their webpages.  We also plan to expand this site, to include articles by coaches, physicians, parents and the players themselves. This way all persons involved will be able to share valuable information from their unique perspectives.

For you coaches, physicians and league organizers, and parents,  we invite you to communicate with us and contribute your views and recommendations for upcoming articles. For the youth who may be reading this article,  we strongly encourage you to write us and provide us with your opinions and ideas for future articles. You might even want to just send us a team photo and information about your team to be published in our "Team Shots" section.

However, for now we  invite you to join us in a look at one of America's leading soccer organizations specifically  the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO). This organization headed by Exec. Dir. Dick Wilson, having more than 600,000 registered members, is one of the largest youth soccer organization in America.   In our article, Director Wilson tells us about the organization's purpose and goals. We have also provided a link to AYSO's main website and a links section for AYSO clubs nationwide.


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