A grassy field, two nets, a soccer ball and some playful youth is the ideal setting for a little league soccer game. You may have recalled yourself of a time when you observed these little league events. You enter a spacious field of green, housing numerous miniature soccer fields all lined up next to each other, and young athletes running after a ball. You may have been more overwhelmed by the abundance of children playing, rather than the actual soccer game itself. But what you can appreciate from this is the sight of children utilizing their endless energy and their parents and relatives rooting for them from the sidelines.
I attended my young nephew’s soccer game and was amused by the organization of the event. The parents of both teams were the main figures of managing the game as being the referees, coaches, and fans. His teammates were not just boys, but girls, all of whom were the same age. The young athletes played a first-time role of being on a team and practicing the basic fundamentals of soccer; getting the ball into the opposing team’s net. Sporting the same color jerseys, his teammates were easily identified as those he should ally. The view of the game included a hoard of young athletes following the ball back and forth, their fans cheering closely from the sidelines, and coaches rotating players in and out of the game. When the game was over, the players showed sportsmanship by slapping hands with the other team. No matter who won or lost, the young athletes seemed more interested in seeing what treats they would get afterwards. Overall, this condensed version of a game was more than just a scene of young children exhibiting their soccer skills. It demonstrated their experience of learning team development.
I’ve been to many sporting events and observed the common procedures for games, but watching these children play soccer was interesting. Little leagues develop more than just growing children and their interests; they build a foundation for team development. The little league organization provides a chance for children to develop athleticism and surround themselves among their peers. While sports teams at the higher level (high school, college, professional) focus more on winning, little leagues seem to focus more at fostering team development by giving youth the opportunity to participate in teams.
Team development influences. Children are easily influenced. When parents put their children in little leagues or other organizations where it involves being with their peers, they are educating them to become good team members. Perhaps it is evident that parents put their children into sports when they are young. By the time they are older and in their prospective sports, they will have the experience.
If you reflect back upon your own childhood, were you ever on a little league team? Can you recall your team’s name, or remember the color of your jerseys or all of your teammates’ names? You probably cannot recall those little things and it’s irrelevant now. What might have been a lasting lesson of your little league stint would be the experiences you have gained of the importance of team development.