"Street Soccer" movement in US: Will it work (or is it just a jerk?)

Word on the street is that the US has 10 million kids playing soccer/futbol, but doesn’t have the talented world-class players (in sufficient number) that should result from those kids. No American superstars

The blame is placed on the regimented nature of the sport, which is suburban, lots of drills, practices, not much playing.

So they are doing this ‘stret soccer’ where organizers/low-level-coaches go to playing fields and bring the balls and maybe a moveable net, and organize the teams, but there is very little to no actually coaching, they let the kids play, poor boy style, no refs or practices. They want to get the poor folks in on it you see.

Will this work, or is it more bull honkey?

I don’t know about Street Soccer, but the quality of US soccer playerds has drastically improved in the last two decades or so. Take you can see Clint Dempsey and Stuart Holden in the Premier league currently acheiving probably a level above what past US outfield players have acheived (maybe with the excpetion of Brian McBride) and Landon Donovan last season was impressive with his short-term loan at Everton.

It’s a good idea to create these more informal programs that concentrate on technical abilty and skill. In the USA you have Clint Dempsey (though Dempsey’s reading of the game and teamwork could improve) and Landon Donovan who are both superb technical players and also Jozy Altidore who’s really good dribbler (thoguh currently his first touch and final ball let him down big time), but beyond that there’s a real paucity of technical players.

It’s not that it’s too regimented, it’s that the kids don’t play when they go home from practice. They get their 8 hours a week, but that’s all. Kids in Brazil are playing 40 hours a week if not more.

It’s not about unsupervised practice. Kaka’s family is wealthy and he was in a soccer academy from a young age. Time on the ball will develop the skill.

Right. That’s the suburban factor. Too many kids can’t walk out their front doors on their own and readily find other kids to play with. This doesn’t apply just to soccer, but to all sports. The United States doesn’t produce the per capita number of top-level baseball players that Cuba and the Dominican do, for example.

Is that hard? I’m from the 'burbs and at weekends I used to walk for 45 mins across town to a council estate (UK equivalent of ‘the projects’, I suppose) play football for anything up to 5hrs and walk home. Quite often I’d do the same the next day. This is only about '96/'97 I’m talking about.

I probably could’ve got a game much nearer, I only walked that far because by that time I’d become estranged from most of the people I grew up with in the leafy suburb where I lived.

Sounds like that classic soccer style, known to parents of first-graders as “herd ball.”

I don’t see anything wrong with this, this is how kids the world over play soccer. I think soccer’s a very creative game and it’s in these kinds of setting that players develop their creativity. Of course there’s some finer poitns of the game that you can only learn playing in proper 11-a-side games, but for me nothing beats a good kickaround for pure enjoyment.

Some American kids can and do as much. But a lot can’t; either by the actual physical design of the places they live, or by overprotective parents, or both, too many kids are effectively trapped in their homes whenever there’s no parent and car and schedule of organized activity at hand to get them out.

Distances, lack of sidewalks or other foot/bicycle paths, and barriers formed by high-speed roads with no practical crossings–the worst post-1940s suburbs were literally built with no design provisions for anyone ever going anywhere except by car (or school bus).

I know, it’s hard to understand why a people would do that to themselves.

And walking straight out of a middle-class neighborhood to play with poor kids across town? Some American parents would think yours were criminally neglectful or mad to let you do that.

Maybe that’s how kids are introduced to soccer, but these days, many top pros were recruited to soccer academies at a young age.

I’m probably making it swound worst than it was, I was about 15-16 then so barely a kid. There were two big council estates in the town I lived in (and still live in infact) the one where I played soccer was not too bad (not picnic though, I remember once a gang of adolescents tried to rob some of my friends whilst I was there once). The other one I don’t think I would go to now unless I had to and even then never after dark.

That said my parents were hardly the most overprotective, they once sent me out armed only with directions to the shop and some Turkish Lira on my own aged 10 in a foreign country to buy milk.

But for example when I went for kickaround in the park there would be kids there who were in the youth systems of professional teams. Sure you to become a pro you need the kind of guidance only people with experince of developing pros can give, but that doesn’t mean you stop playing pick-up games in the park or during the lunch break at school.

The whole idea of kids only playing 11-a-side and only taking part in regimented training seems really alien to me.

The only sport in America that still has a pick-up culture is basketball. Baseball used to have one, but hasn’t for 40 years or more. On rare occasions I’ll see kids playing touch football (American). Soccer I have only seen in Hispanic neighborhoods, and usually among young adults, not so much with kids. It may break out from there, maybe not.

Q: Do you know what makes Americans hate soccer? A: They turn 13.

I know, old joke but there is a kernal of truth to it. To my suburban eyes, youth soccer appears to be the most popular non-school supported organized activity for kids before middle school. A lot of parents are also involved. However, as others have mentioned upthread, away from the league, the kids don’t kick the ball around that much. It just isn’t as fun as playing with your team, which is a big social thing.

Once a kid gets to 13 and the school supported (as opposed to more parent supported) activities take over, it is football and basketball all the way (your region may vary). Despite so many kids playing when they were younger, football and basketball get the most recognition and the kids appear to lose their “love” of soccer. Times are changing, but soccer has a lot of ground to make up.

Youth soccer is a relatively new cultural phenomenon. It may take a few generations to catch up. I never played organized soccer as a kid, I had to look online to teach my kid how to kick properly! I sure as hell could teach him how to throw a tight spiral, a curve ball, or make a reverse layup, but I don’t even know the basics of soccer.

Right, this here.

Growing up in the 'burbs in the '70s and '80s, there were always pickup basketball games. I could go to the school, my church, or the park and find kids my age playing at almost any time. Practically everyone I knew, and all my close friends, had a hoop on the driveway. And we all had multiple basketballs. So I could just go outside and play a game of horse with whatever kids were out on the street.

But no one I knew owned a soccer ball, let alone a portable net or the like. The only time I played was in semi-organized play at school, or in organized rec leagues. There were never any pickup games… anywhere. If I had ever had a hankering for some soccer, I’m not sure how I cold have possibly filled it. There just weren’t any games going on.

A portable net…


What portable net?

All you need is four jumpers or T-shirts to mark the goalposts! (Better visibility than rocks; you may still need rocks to make sure the clothes don’t get blown away)

street hockey

The part where the plan goes off is where they have ‘organizers’ and ‘low level coaches’. For street football to have effect is for kids to do it by themselves and play as often as they want. i appreciate all the logistic problems mentioned above, but that just means that the US won’t become an international force any time soon.

Yep all you need is any two objects. In the summer on the odd occasion no-one brought any coats we’d even use an empty drinks can (no ideal) at last resort.

Jumpers for goalposts works well, the only drawback is the occasional argument over whether a goal was a screamer in to the top corner or missed by a mile and the goalkeeper having to chase the ball every time a goal was scored.

“In America.”

Minnesota doesn’t count. Too much of an accent.

I agree with much of what’s written above, but I’d also add that I think the lack of a top professional league hurts, too. MLS is improving, and it’s got some passionate fans, but for many (most?) US soccer fans, a foreign league is the one of choice. This is due, obviously I think, to people simply being attracted to the best players.

Anyway, when I was a kid (late 80s, early 90s) almost all my friends played organized soccer, but watched the big 3 sports on tv. When we hung out, it was basketball in the driveway, football in the yard, or baseball in the park. Those were sports with athletes who inspired us (Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, Kirby Puckett). If we’d known and actually watched players like Van Basten or Maradona back then, perhaps we would have played in the street or the park amongst ourselves, creating “World Cup-winning” goals in our imaginations. The fact that the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, and Champions League are televised weekly in the US may come to help this down the road. I hope so. It certainly won’t hurt.