This past Saturday we followed an AREA wide program that all the Regional Commissioners signed onto that was to create a Silent Saturday.
In most cases, Silent Saturday was a silent success... in some cases, it brought out the ugly parts. We had teams that refused to participate (because they felt it put them at a strategic disadvantage), we had one coach tell me that 'he was going to take his team to club because of our stupid and authoritarian rules', we had teams approach their Referee and negotiate that they could talk, and most importantly, we had the vast majority who enjoyed a single week different experience for the kids.
Why do I write this? First to thank those who trusted the program and second, I want all who were within earshot of someone who thought it the worst thing since vegemite to know that our goals are noble and surely not intended to impact the winnability of at team or to control anyone on the pitch.
There are many reasons why the leadership of the Area believed that this was a benefit to the kids and to their development. Some of the objectives of Silent Saturday are:
To show that kids can play well on their own with limited instruction.
To help the few parents and coaches who feel they must provide constant direction, understand how disruptive it can be.
To give players the chance to trust their skills and instincts without sideline input.
To support our volunteer referees, both youth and adult, by eliminating sideline interference and comments.
While we have never done a complete survey on whether the families like it or not, the overwhelming majority of people that I ask about it rate it very positive. The common responses are that it is great to hear the players talking and not hearing the coach scream at Jimmy to move back, move back, move back! Or to not hear Jane's dad scream SHOOT-SHOOT-SHOOT! while the ball is still at midfield.
Here are the folks at Positive Coaching Alliance and their view on Silence on the Sidelines...
Why does it matter?
All this is good and well, but as I said above, there is a clear minority who do not like the day, do not feel it 'appropriate' for soccer, and takes the spirit of the game away. It is our view that they need to step back and see the value that this one day brings to the players. The reason we do these things is because we are trying to deliver the very best soccer experience to the kids, AND... the kids seem to love it.
What were the challenges? One of the key issues that we have is that there are coaches that believe that they know better than the leadership and they say things on the sidelines, say things at practice, say things after the games, etc... and those things tarnish the coaches reputation, impact the players, and lead the parents to assume the worst about the program and the goals.
In Region 87, we have 73 teams this year. That is a ton of leaders... and the vast majority are pulling the same direction with goals to support the key six AYSO philosophies which include Positive Coaching and Player Development. These elements are key to what AYSO is all about and are focused on helping the kids have an exceptional experience. Our goals are bigger than a win in a 10U game.
Most importantly, our goals are to do our part to help shape the young ones into great partners in our society and we believe team sports can do that very well.
Thanks again to all who participated and for those that still feel it a 'waste' of a weekend, I welcome a conversation.
Have a great time on the pitch this weekend...