West Jordan Youth Soccer League finds success with silent sidelines
Jun 05, 2018 12:43PM ● Published by Greg James
The West Jordan youth soccer teaches teamwork, leadership and sportsmanship to players as young as 3 years old. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | firstname.lastname@example.org
The coach’s cheeks turned scarlet red as the referee missed an obvious call against his team, yet his lips sat clenched, and his complaint was quiet enough for a public library. It was silent Saturday at the West Jordan soccer complex.
Silent Saturday is the name given to the day on which the coaches are asked not to coach and parents are asked not cheer or give direction. There is no shouting, no yelling, no threatening officials or swearing at fathers from the opposing team.
“We have done this for a while,” West Jordan Youth Soccer president Chad Barnett said. “We have found this beneficial and are trying to do it in the spring and the fall.”
This concept has been extremely successful in clubs all across the country. It helps players concentrate and learn to communicate with each other on the field. Parents were asked to find new and creative ways to cheer (posters, hand waving, etc.). The coaches were able to instruct during quarter breaks and halftime, but for the most part, the players were left to play the game without constant direction from the sideline.
“It helps promote sportsmanship,” Barnett said. “In the older age groups, it allows the players to play without having to be told from the sideline what to do. The kids learn to figure it out themselves. It also gives one week as a reminder not to yell and complain. The older more competitive teams sometimes have the sportsmanship problems.”
West Jordan Youth Soccer is a recreation league and member of the Utah Youth Soccer Association. The league supports more than 1,250 kids and more the 120 teams. It’s players range from ages 3 to 18.
The league also hosted a street soccer event May 9. Children of all ages were welcome in the ”pick-up” style soccer game. It was free to all players. The kids organized their own teams, coached themselves and called their own fouls.
“It was a fun weeknight get together,” Barnett said. “We had a good turnout, and the kids all seemed to have fun. The idea was just like a pickup basketball game. We also try to organize events throughout the year. We also offered clinic style camps at the beginning of the spring—something different to keep everyone excited.”
The league was part of the recreation night at an RSL game earlier this season. Many players were involved in opening ceremonies and halftime games.
The recreation league has developed many players to advance to competition and high school teams.
“I coach a competition level team, and more than half of the players on the team started playing at West Jordan Youth Soccer,” Barnett said. “We have lots of clubs interested in offering camps to our players as a way of getting exposure to our players.”
The league’s core values include promoting and enhancing sportsmanship; player, parent and coach development; and improvement of referees. The volunteer league board strives to maintain and teach these values throughout the seasons.
Registration for West Jordan Youth Soccer is now open through June 20. It includes fall and spring seasons, a uniform, soccer ball, pictures and a participation award.