Excitement and joy were felt by my 5 year old son this weekend with the opening of soccer season. This is the year where he joined his older sister in becoming an official Coginchaug soccer player. Early Saturday morning, my son ran into my room, with a big smile on his face already dressed in his “Galaxy” uniform. “Mom, I even put on my own shin guards” he says as he proudly points to them. The excitement of his first day of soccer had been brewing all week. Nearly every family member and anyone who came by the house knew that Saturday was Ethan’s very own soccer day.
Before we left the house, Ethan insisted on using a soccer bag like his big sister, and packed his soccer ball and bottled water in it. We headed over to Peckham Park for his first Kindergarten soccer clinic. Ethan marched along with his oversized soccer bag draped over his back as he greeted his friends with smiles.
Once all the uniforms were handed out, Peckham Park was brightly adorned with 5, 6, and 7 year olds wearing various MLS team jerseys with the CSC logo on them. The kids looked like mini soccer stars awaiting a chance to compete for The World Cup. The parent coaches also got their team’s jersey to wear for the clinics. This was the second year where the kids got professional looking uniforms and from what I can see, the children love it!
Our Kindergarten coach, Mark Salley, engaged all the kids in various foot skills and activities that were developmentally appropriate for their age level and also fun. The kids counted out to 10 as they “mastered” toe touches and foundation. Once the warm up and foot skill aspect of the clinic were done, teams were split up on the fields and mini soccer games were played between teams. My son played his heart out and loved scoring goals during his game against DC United. He also enjoyed seeing his friends and classmates on the field. Coach Mark Salley went from game to game to assist the parent coaches and to encourage the kids and cheer them on.
Mark has a passion for soccer and he has been innovative in making changes to the program that are benefiting our children. My daughter developed a love for soccer due in part because of Mark. Back in Ava’s early elementary years, he was her coach for soccer and indoor soccer. It was through this experience, (because neither I nor my husband played soccer), that Ava grew to love and enjoy soccer. In fact, she loves soccer so much that she plays for both the Coginchaug U-11 Girls Travel Team, and a girl’s premiere team. Soccer is her sport. She aspires to be a professional soccer player someday.
So here we are at the first clinic, and the kids are already being taught foundation and toe touches. Foot skills are what make an excellent soccer player and the earlier a child learns foot skills, the more comfortable they will be at utilizing them on soccer fields when playing more competitively. We are truly fortunate in our community to have parents who step up and do wonderful things that benefit our children. Having Mark Salley as director for Kindergarten soccer is a winning GOAL for our community and for the future of kids’ soccer. Thanks to all the parent volunteers and coaches that teach and inspire our children at all levels of soccer. And a shout out to our local club; Coginchaug Soccer! I expect to see some future soccer stars in this batch of players!