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Provoking a Reaction

The Clubs Being Used to Beat Our Children (Soccer Clubs, That Is)

In our complicated world, tension between competing ideas is important. It’s kind of like how some medicines can help or poison you and how being an individual can be both good and bad – it can make you strong, but it can also make you feel alone. These opposing ideas are all around us, like the forces that hold up a suspension bridge, where the tension is key to holding up the middle.

Now, let’s talk about soccer in this complex world. The sub-title “The Clubs Being Used to Beat Our Children” is used to provoke, but we need to understand what it’s really about. It’s not judging people’s morals at any level. It’s more about realizing that people usually do their best based on what they know, often influenced by what’s considered “normal” in their culture. The hope is that this title, along with the argument that follows, makes people think about their own situations and consider the hidden potential of playing soccer for fun.

Let’s look at some numbers. Imagine you want to play soccer in college or professionally. It’s important for both parents and players to understand the opportunities out there. For instance, NCAA Division I programs can offer up to 9.9 scholarships for men and 14 for women. With so many players and only a few scholarships available, it might seem tough. The mathematics reveal the slim odds. Yet, there are still a large number of players/parents chasing that goal.

High-performance soccer or things labeled as such often get more attention. It’s an easy sell for many in our society. An ambitious pursuit that is the sports version of “keeping up with the Joneses”. Although club soccer has become the norm, that doesn’t mean recreational soccer is less important. The game on its own still has so much to give young people regardless of the pursuit. Recreation is a place where players can enjoy soccer just for the sake of playing – as a game.

Recreational soccer is completely underestimated. Many won’t accept my definition, but if you’re not being paid to play through cash or scholarship, then it’s recreation. Perhaps it’s highly competitive recreation, but it’s still recreation. And that’s OK! Sadly, many parents and players end up investing a lot of money and time in an experience that’s supposed to be fun. However, they’ve been sold on a pursuit that is most likely going to end without that 1% prize. Recreational soccer, far from being less important, is where the love of the game really shines. Competitive clubs and intense training programs have their place, but they shouldn’t overshadow the basic joy of playing the game.

I strongly believe that recreational soccer is crucial for young players. Soccer has a lot to offer beyond the dream of scholarships or pro contracts. About 99% of young soccer players may not make it to college or pro level, but that doesn’t make their soccer journey any less valuable. Recreational soccer is a place where friendships grow and the love for the game gets stronger. It’s about enjoying the process, the friendships, and the lessons learned on the field.

Although the pull of the last few decades has gone toward the competitive pursuit, perhaps we need to rebalance the bridge. Recreational soccer deserves a spot in the spotlight, right alongside the pursuit of excellence in high-performance clubs. Ultimately, these clubs shouldn’t just be organizations; they should be lively communities where the joy of soccer is important at every level of play.

We should love the game along the way, not just follow the yellow brick road in route to a promised land that for most will never be reached. Maybe everything we’re looking for is in our own backyard and doesn’t cost that much.


Coach Huryk has introduced a vital initiative to protect the essence of youth soccer. It’s crucial to distinguish between enjoying soccer and Labeling Players or Coaches as “Recreational.” Every player, no matter their goals, deserves respect and the joy of the game.

The ‘FUNdamental SOCCER – Bill of Rights’ proposed for the US Youth Soccer Community recognizes this distinction. This player-centric proposal aims to enhance youth soccer’s future for all, emphasizing players’ rights in a supportive, inclusive environment. It balances competitiveness and fun to keep soccer’s joy at the core.

Just as we champion keeping the love of the game in recreational soccer and rejecting labels, the ‘Bill of Rights’ offers guidance and protection for all players, ensuring a brighter future for youth soccer.

In this journey, every voice counts, and every contribution, whether on the field or through support for the ‘Bill of Rights,’ is a step in the right direction. Your insights and participation can help shape the future of youth soccer in our communities.

PLEASE … Join the Cause?

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because, TOGETHER, WE can make a difference!

Pete Huryk

As a seasoned soccer coach, educator, author, and blogger, He always works hard to help the people he teaches do better in both soccer and life. In his FUNtastic newest book, "Setting and Scoring Financial Goals," he talks about money using soccer as a way to help young people understand it. For almost 20 years, Pete has been coaching soccer in high school and college. Even though soccer is a big part of his life, he's mainly a teacher. He has one big goal that he never gives up on: To Make the People He Meets Better and Help Them Grow. Pete doesn't just mentor in soccer; he also inspires positive changes in the lives of the people he meets.