The purpose of youth sports goes beyond winning and losing. It's more about life lessons than anything else.
The Juneau Soccer Club started the Juneau 3v3 World Cup last March for that very reason, and more than 100 local competitors ages 7-14 will play on the turf at Dimond Park Field House on Sunday for the second time in the last year.
Juneau 3v3 World Cup Event Director Carl Ferlauto said the focus of the tournament is to teach the kids how to problem solve and learn on their own, without the help of parents and coaches.
"We let the kids play - no coaches, no coaching," he said. "Parents in the stands are not allowed to shout out directions, and if they do they're going to get called on it."
Ferlauto said it's not always constructive for kids to be coached or instructed while they develop their skills. Instead, he stressed the importance of children teaching themselves.
"The kids, quite frankly, feel a lot more empowered when they solve their own problems," he said. "And at the end of the day, they all notice how much better they are than they were at the beginning."
The idea behind this originates from the way soccer is learned by many of the great players in the game today, as many of them developed skills playing "street soccer," Ferlauto said. While organized sports are predicated around coach and parental control, street soccer allows for kids to get a ball and organize a game with other children on their own.
"In all the great (soccer) countries, kids would get a ball out on the street or in an empty lot and just play," Ferlauto said. "They figure it out. They learn how to deal with fairness and arguing over calls, they learn social skills and they basically get much better. If younger kids show up and older kids dominate, the younger kids have to raise their game."
Ferlauto said the tournament Sunday will have JSC coaches refereeing just to keep the event moving along smoothly. Teams are comprised of four players, and each game is 16 minutes long with one player sitting out four minutes per game. The field of play will be 30 yards long by 15 yards wide, and the six-foot wide goals will be placed five yards beyond the goal line, which eliminates the need for a goalie.
The Juneau 3v3 World Cup begins Sunday at 9 a.m., and it will conclude with an awards ceremony at approximately 6 p.m. following the championship round.
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