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The Beautiful (And Universal) Game

Depending on who you ask, the term the beautiful game can have different meanings. To some, it describes an intricate passing sequence; poetry in motion. For others, it is the technical flair, creativity, and brilliance that draws the eye. But there is also another interpretation that is perhaps what truly defines soccer as the global game; its ability to bring people together.

Whether it was a game serving as a temporary truce between English and German forces during World War I, a pause in Ivory Coast's brutal civil war in 2006 as Drogba led his country to its first ever World Cup, or a game in a park amongst new neighbors, perhaps soccer's true beauty is its ability to unite. 

But what if I were to tell you that it is possible for all three aspects of the beautiful game to co-exist? While one of the strengths of youth sports, soccer in particular, in this country is that there is a team for everyone, regardless of ability, etc., unfortunately this can possibly lead to a single-minded approach for a team.

The author of this article has seen this all too frequently. Teams naturally undergo roster turnover, especially after the U13 year, but unfortunately as I changed teams growing up and saw players leave travel teams I used to coach, this led to lost friendships and worst of all, rivalry that extended beyond sport. 

As sports science has progressed, including research conducted by members of Philmont FC's staff, our understanding of player development has grown. Skills that players learn off the field, social relationships, studying techniques, etc. are vital to player development. A player's ability to effectively communicate with different teammates of different backgrounds is crucial to navigating the ups and downs of a game and season (and actually helped the author of this article receive their first professional offer in England). The player's ability to be their own critic, recognizing weaknesses and how to address them, is crucial to playing at higher levels. 

These player attributes, certainly a small sample size, are ones that all players, regardless of skill level, should learn. Not only does this improve personal growth and development, but also their abilities on the field as well. So what does this look like?

At Philmont FC, we had the opportunity of running weekly training sessions this summer that included players fluent in English, Spanish, and Ukrainian. These sessions culminated in a friendly 4 vs 4 tournament. How did it go?

-We saw an eleven year old complete a rainbow in a game; a skill they worked on throughout our sessions during water breaks

-We saw a SIX year old move around the field, demanding the ball from player twice their own age, and that older player trusting them as they completed a give-and-go

-Parents and guardians of each player cheering for other players, sitting together, and enjoying each other's company with the universal language of soccer

We saw the beautiful game. And we hope to have the opportunity to work with you and your child, team, school, community group, etc., to help unleash the true power of soccer, both on and off the field.


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