U8B v Parents: World class goals in World Cup atmosphere!

Stepping up to take the 6th penalty kick for the kids was Anderson S.  He was being cheered on by a very vocal chant from his 28 strong teammates.  If he scores, the players of the U8 Pickering Boy’s Rep program win a much anticipated match against their parents.  If he doesn’t, the game goes to the 7th shot.

Prior to that, the boys scored 3 of their 5 previous shots while the parents scored on 3 out of 6 shots. Judging by the loudness of the chant, “ANDO, ANDO”, his nickname, it must have sounded like thousands of people were watching making the stress of the situation even more intense.

The game started with a full 11–aside match between the boys and their parents.  It was a rare case where players play on such a large pitch because rules for this age group require that players play 5-aside on a much smaller pitch.  With the intent of scaling the game down, the ball often ends up out of play usually more than 50% of the time.  But on the large pitch, the ball stayed in play and the short legs and lungs of the U8 boys made it hard for them to match the parents’ larger strides.

Because the sizes of the goals were adjusted and scaled down to the size of each side, the game was well balanced and very even.  A couple of parents also played for the kids.  The kids got to shoot on a full FIFA size goal while the parents had to score on a small 5X7 goal.  The game was very well balanced and well played with 2 shifts for each side.

Surprisingly, all the parents got involved, either as players or coaching staff; and many parents showed some great skills.  These parents were a very talented lot.  I was actually surprised by their skill level.

I think this bodes well for the future of the game in this country.  More parents than ever have actually played the game and this will help pass the passion for the game on to their kids.  A vital missing link if we want to develop players.  Players in North America had very little of this soccer passion passed on from their parents, unlike in countries from other continents.  Even Pele, the King of Soccer, learned to score from his father who played as a striker.  His dad taught him the importance of heading.

When a parent is passionate about something, there is a greater chance that he or she passes that passion on to his or her sons or daughters.  As I state in my book, The Last 9 Seconds, it’s not a coincidence that many great actors, musicians, doctors, or athletes also produce great actors, musicians, doctors, or athletes.  Right from the start, they have more opportunities to have “Captivating and Absorbing Moments” (CAM) in their lives by experiencing the insides of a sport or other profession.  This often creates the passion which is needed to create a professional.

Nonetheless, the kids gave it an extra special effort.  They ran their hearts out just to try to beat the parents.  They actually took a 1-0 lead but the parents came back to score twice to take the lead late into the game.  With the game close to reaching full time, the U8 boys scored a goal to tie the game. They went wild.  A massive 28 player huddle formed to congratulate the goal scorer. Even players on the sidelines rushed to hug the goal scorer.


The game went to extra time and more drama was to come.  With barely a minute left of extra time, both teams had opportunities to put the game away.  Sweat was pouring from the faces of many of the parents as they didn’t expect such tenacity from the kids.  Both keepers came up with hair raising saves and on several occasions, one wondered how the ball stayed out of the goal.  But in the end, the final whistle blew and the game was tied and had to go to penalty kicks to be decided.  Both teams kicked on the big goal and to make it fair, one of the coaches played in goal for the kids.

Unfortunately, the score keepers were so enthralled in the game that I cannot report on all the goal scorers but fortunately for cell phones and iPads, two goals were recorded and both were by the U8 boys. To top it off, both goals were World Class.  Kervon K stepped up to take the 5th shot for the U8 boys and  did much better than Mueller, Ozil, Ronaldo, or Messi did in the Euro’s or Copa America this past summer.  It was textbook finishing by Kervon as he tucked the ball into the corner to the keepers right. It was a shot that not even the great Buffon would have stopped.

The ensuing parent went to take his 6th shot and totally unlike any textbook would suggest, he put it right at the keeper but fortunately for him, the keeper played it casually and tried to trap it with his foot. The ball sneaked under the goalkeeper’s foot to score.  It created a situation where the U8 Boys had to score to win otherwise the game would go another round.

With the crowd cheering, Anderson coolly and calmly stepped up to take the shot as though he had done this for years.  He proceeded to bury the shot in the corner as his teammate had done previously. The goal was perfect.  There was such power and accuracy from such a little guy that that pro coaches and scouts will soon be calling on him to teach Messi, Ronaldo and friends how to take a perfect penalty kick. And there certainly was no dancing around prior to the kick like we saw Za Za do at the Euro’s for Italy. Anderson went straight to business.

It was a perfect goal but the celebration was even more exciting than the kick itself.  “Ando” was mobbed by his teammates; a perfect way to cap off the summer soccer season as everyone went home happy.  (You can see Anderson’s goal here.)  Even the parents, who gave it their all, were happy to see their kids win.  Not because they let them, but because they actually tried to win and played a great game themselves and lost fairly.

Although we preach small sided games and no scores and standings, once in a while we need to understand that changing things up for reasons of creating a “special moment” that captures a players imagination and helps create a passion for the game, whatever that special moment is, is in itself a “player development moment.”

And let me tell you, having coached for over 40 years, this evening will stay with me as one of my most memorable coaching moments ever. There was something special in the air that night. Thanks to all the players, parents, and fellow coaches (Mike Gray, Dwight Gunning and the injured Gavin Fredericks) for making it special because to the kids, this WAS A WORLD CUP FINAL.

Thanks for reading,

John DeBenedictis

Pickering U8 Technical Coach

Team Members: Johnny B, Elijah E, Tristan S, Justin R, Demilade F, Dylan V, Gabriel V,  Caellum G, Anderson S, Myles D, Tristan D, Kervon K, Tristan C, Alessandro R, Samy O, Luca C, Olivier C, Savion S, Jammie G, Christian D, Aiden S, Hayden F, Devon B, Bruno V, Mikai B, Carson J, Amare B, Logan C

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