With the growing success and popularity of the Azkals, football (also known as soccer) is gaining a stronger local fan base and lots of hopefuls trying out in clinics and teams all over the country. If you’re curious about whether this sport is the right thing for your little boy or girl, we had Coach Jong Castaneda, a former player and football coach of the Ateneo Grade School, give us ten reasons why football is a good thing for your child to get into.
1. Football is fun – What could be more fun for a youngster than spend the afternoon running around kicking a ball across a grassy field? It’s as simple and as visceral a pleasure as that, and Coach Jong emphasizes its importance as a draw for children. “Enjoyment is really the key, especially for beginners,” surmises Castaneda. “It’s not about winning. The main goal is about playing the game because, especially for beginners, it’s just about the fun of running around with everyone kicking the ball. You don’t really need to be very good at the start to enjoy football.”
2. It’s a family activity – Based on Coach Jong’s experience, it starts with an older brother who gets into the sport, with the rest of the family eventually getting into it. “From that one kuya, it extends to cousins and other family members who get interested, then they all play together,” he reveals. But even non-football players can get into the action. “You don’t have to actually play to have fun,” he admits. “Even mommies, yayas, lolos, lolas and drivers can enjoy themselves by being spectators.”
3. Football is a foundation sport – Other sports aren’t as easy to learn as football, especially for young kids. Basketball can be challenging to newcomers who have trouble with dribbling. Volleyball requires a lot of timing and accuracy. Taekwondo can seem very strict for children who may not be ready for the discipline of martial arts. In comparison, the sheer simplicity of football lends itself to being a good introductory sport that can prepare your child for future sports activities. “You just run around chasing and kicking a ball,” reiterates Castaneda. “With enough practice, your child improves his stamina, coordination and fighting spirit, which are also necessary in other sports.”
4. It helps in values formation – “You learn self discipline on the field and on the pitch,” he continues. “You pick up values such as hard work, doing your best in the game, teamwork and understanding winning and losing games.” The beauty of the sport is that the value formation isn’t blatant or direct. “It comes in slowly,” confides Coach Jong. “It’s a long process that comes in with simple things like training, learning drills and scrimmage. Kids that normally wouldn’t obey mommy to clean up their rooms would follow their coach to do their practice drills and instructions on the field, so eventually, they learn to obey and respect authority figures as well.”