Soccer - AN AID TO PARENTS
-Fred Stock -1979

Here is an aid for parents who are experiencing soccer for the first time, who have never played the game, and who are confused by the terminology, the play rules, or the skills of the game. The text has been written by a parent who is experiencing soccer for the first time having never played the game and is as confused as you are by the explanations of the players about what is going on out there. Here then, are the answers we need, gleaned directly from the ten year old players themselves! And who should know them better, eh? First of all, why are there pentagonal markings on some soccer balls, hex’s on others, and a kind of stripe effect on others? "'Cause that's the way they are made, Dad!" Oh! Of course, why didn’t I think of that? So, why are most of you restricted from using your hands on the soccer field ? "Well, I guess it’s because it’s more fun to kick the ball, and besides, if you touch it, a referee blows a whistle and ya hafta give the ball to somebody who is a different color." …O.K. then!  Why does the goal keeper wear a different color shirt? "That's so you can see him better. Everybody knows that!" I have to admit, he did seem to be a little more in focus through my reading glasses. These kids are so smart!

Well, now that we have the basics down, let’s move on to the finer points. First of all, "there are ten men on the team, and one goldie.”  Evidently, the goal tender is not necessarily then, a "man". “No Dad. One of the teams has a girl for a goldie.” Got it! Sometimes the goldie is called a goldly or a goll-tenner.  It is his/her job “to keep the ball out of the net while everybody else is trying to get it in the net. And when he isn't, somebody else has to be, or else everybody who is a different color and is up front is outsides and has to go back.” Well, that ought to be clear enough!  “And if you don’t, then you’ll probably get in trouble with the coach, or Ryan’s mom who always yells at us.”

Now there are certain rules which nobody really understands, but are apparently enforced anyway “by a man in a black suit who is taller than anybody else. You can always tell who he is because he has a clock around his neck.” Ummm. Anyway, when somebody breaks one of those nebulous rules, “or goes “outsides”, he blows a whistle and one of three things happens; 1) everybody else has to go back. 2) somebody needs to kick the ball from a round thing in the corner. 3) “It's time for the subs to come in. The subs are "forwards” or "backwards" if there are still more people. Most of the time they are in the middle or backwards, but not always. Sometimes if there are just enough and the referee blows a whistle, you just stand there while the people who are a different color, change…” Uhhh… O.K.! There apparently are two kinds of kicks. These were clearly explained. “ ’Free kicks’ are when you did something that really made the referee mad, and you can’t stop them. They just go right in the middle and you can't move. Just the goldie can move, but he doesn't know which way until it's too late. The other type of kick is a ‘Pentaldy kick’ and it has to go outside the line around the goldie before you can touch it, but not with your hands. Sometimes they are out of the corners, but you hafta watch out so you don't kick the ‘flag.’ “  Well I should think! I hate kicking my flags! What? Sometimes the ball goes outside the lines and somebody catches it and throws it back to the players. "It's O.K. for you to use your hands to throw it back if you are just watching the game. Then one of the players who didn’t touch it last hasta throw it back with both hands and both feet on the line. You're sposta’ throw it to your own man if you can. If not, just throw it to anybody.

Sometimes you can catch the ball with your head and if you're a girl you can use your elbows if they are crossed. If you hit it with your head, it goes straight up and anybody can get it, so you shouldn't do that very often. Sometimes when you "head" it you get dizzy but the oranges help you get over it.”   Oh, good! Why is there a round circle on the field right in the middle? “I don’t know.” “Me neither.” I’ll accept that! Honesty is always the best policy.

Parents, we trust that has cleared up a lot of your questions about the game. If you need more information about the rules and skills of soccer, just ask your son or daughter. They have all the answers.  Must be good breeding or something. -fhs