Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Midas Boys

Although the rugby season gets all the attention on my blog, as that is where my true passion is, I should also take the opportunity to recount the successes of the U-14 soccer team that I also coach at ICS.  These are primarily the same students that made up my rugby team with a few additions and subtractions from that team.  Despite not having much of an interest in soccer (it is seen by some as the antithesis of rugby with all the diving and acting that goes on), I have taken on the role as their coach primarily because I love them and I know how much they love soccer, and in order to play they need someone to coach them.  I had tried to pass the duty on to others far more qualified for the responsibility than myself, but no takers, so I gladly step up to the task.

These boys are crazy about soccer.  I am confident they spend their weekend researching soccer stats and memorizing rosters, which only goes to show the potential to store up just as much history knowledge if the same level of enthusiasm and interest were existent.  Not only do they watch soccer, but are constantly playing as well.  They are always looking for any opportunity to turn something into a ball and start an impromptu soccer match.  I have even had spontaneous games start in my classroom with a water bottle as the "ball", however, I can assure that was a short lived game.  This makes it quite intimidating to be their coach when my last competitive soccer experience was when I myself was in Middle School (although we did win the recreational league equivalent of the State Championship), and I have almost zero knowledge about soccer fundamentals or how to coach the sport.  Basically you could say my role was more of a glorified cheerleader rather than a coach, but I did feel that I could still benefit the team on a smaller level perhaps than I did for the rugby team, and help them to also win gold.  How I sought to do this was to help them develop a team strategy and play together as a team.  Most of these boys already had a soccer skill set far superior to my own, (although don't be fooled, I am still pretty good), so it would be quite silly of me to try and teach them soccer skills.  The strategy that I wanted the team to adopt was to minimalism their touches of the ball.  To do a lot of one touch passing and one touch shooting.  This would move the ball down the field faster and give us more open opportunities before defenses had time to recover and set up.  Also, I wanted them to focus on just putting shots on target rather than dribbling around in the box waiting for a perfect shot, as they had the habit of doing.  The goalies in our league were not world cup caliber goalies, and so my players didn't need perfect shots, in fact often times even crummy shots stood a fair chance in going in.  This is what I brought to the table and the players bought into it.  Other than that, I let the captains call a lot of the shots such as who would play which position.

The team was led by a solid core of 8th graders (all but 2), whom many of which I had observed my first year in Singapore get slaughtered every game, ending the season completely winless.  Only to bounce back the next year, the first year with me as their coach, to fight hard for 2nd place and silver medal.  Just as we had matched the previous year's silver medal in rugby with a silver medal in soccer, we had full expectations of matching this year's gold medal in rugby with a gold medal in soccer.  And in this case, it was much easier done than said.  All but two of our six games were won by more than a 7 goal margin.  The boys breezed through the competition to collect the gold medal in their final year in the U14 division.  I gave the boys the nickname "The Midas Boy's" cause it seems that this year every sport they touch turns to gold.

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