Soccer is played in in more than 200 countries around the world and is now officially the most played sport in Australia. According to a survey conducted by the the Australian Sports Commission, 1,104,815 Australians participated in soccer in 2016, that’s over 400,000 more participants than AFL (665,470 participants) and four times as many as Rugby League (236,593 participants).
Soccer is also the perfect game for kids. It’s all inclusive and can be played by both boys and girls of any height, strength or speed. Soccer is an easy sport to learn and play, and involves continuous action and running, so is a great form of exercise.
Communication and cooperation are vital for playing soccer and passing the ball, which makes it the ideal sport for improving kids social skills and teaching them all about teamwork and fairplay.
Soccer is a contact sport but is not a collision sport, which makes it relatively safe compared to a lot of other team sports, especially other forms of football. This fact alone is a major reason for parents choosing to get their kids started in soccer over other sports.
There is no right age to start your child in soccer and your child will usually let you know if and when it’s something they’d like to try. Below we have given you some helpful information on how to get your child into soccer at different ages and what to expect.
At this age soccer should be all about fun. If your 5-7 year old is asking to play soccer then find them a team that allows them the time and space to enjoy kicking the ball around with their team mates. Sure it’s important that they start to learn the rules of the game but rule enforcement should be a lot more lenient at this age with a greater emphasis on learning how to kick the ball, getting a feel for the game and working as a team.
Teams at this younger level will generally be smaller with usually only four players on the field during a game and no goalkeeper. The game will be shorter with the halves usually only going for 15 minutes. At this age we have to remember how little they still are and you don’t want them getting bored or tired of playing soccer before they’ve had a chance to develop their love for playing.
Some experts believe that 8 years old is the ideal age for kids to start playing soccer in a competitive team environment. However, the reality is that a lot of kids by the age of 8-9 have been already playing in a soccer team for 2-3 years.
If your 8-9 year old is just showing an interest in joining a soccer team then don’t let this fact discourage them from playing. Chances are they have been kicking the soccer ball around at school and on weekends with friends for a while and have a good understanding of the game.
This is the age group that soccer practice and games really begin to change. There will be more players on the field during the game, usually 6 a side and a goalkeeper will be used. The length of the game will also be extended to 20-25 minutes for each half.
Additional rules will be introduced with less leniency for breaking them. This helps the players to refine their skills and prepare them for when they get to the higher levels of the sport. However, there should always be an emphasis on fun which is an important thing to look for when choosing a team.
This is the age where coaches really focus on providing a solid foundation of technical skill. 10-12 year old children are ready for a more structured approach to training, but it’s still important to remember that under 12’s also need a good dose of fun to keep them engaged in the sport.
The number of players allowed on the field increases to 9 a side at 10 years old up to 11 a side at 12 years. The length of the game also gradually increases with 12 year olds playing full 30 minute halves.
For children who are just developing an interest in soccer at this age, it is important to find them a team and coach who are willing to embrace their limited playing experience and provide extra support to help them to develop their skills and knowledge of the game.
Ready To Start Playing?
If your child is showing a real enthusiasm for playing soccer, then a Soccer Camp would be a great way to develop their skills in a fun environment. Australian Sports Camps run 3 day Soccer Camps for 6-16 year olds with structured but fun programs for each age level.
These programs cover all facets of soccer and are designed to improve skills and maximise enjoyment. They are run by experienced coaches with guest appearances by leading Australian soccer players, giving your child the added opportunity of meeting their sporting idols.