Seriously though, I’m actually really thrilled that both of my daughters will be taking part in their very first soccer program this year with i9 Sports. They’ve been wanting to try soccer for a really long time now, so when I told them a few weeks ago, I knew they’d be beyond excited. Well…Samara was. She’s at the age where she wants to be active and a part of something extracurricular like her big sis who seemed to do everything.
Surprisingly, Leila, who had been asking about playing soccer since even before last year, had some strange hesitation. “What if I’m not good at soccer?” is what she asked us. That’s the overachieving perfectionist side of her that I fear most because I know exactly who she inherited it from! The last thing I want is for her to miss out on things in life out of fear that she won’t be good enough.
“Then, Leila, you’ll learn and just have fun!”
Today was their first day at soccer practice and as always, my kids surprised me. The oh-so-excited Samara was NOT cooperating. She was actually that kid who started crying when it was time to join her team! She refused to run or kick the ball unless I held her hand! Needless to say, I got my workout in today too. This will be interesting…
Leila, on the other hand, gained her confidence all of a sudden and really did her thing. She tried to be bashful at first, but eventually I could see she started to give it her all. Here’s a little footage of her kicking practice.
The girls’ coaches were both completely different, but I’ll have to wait until later in the season to give a full assessment. Both were really energetic, patient,, and seemed to genuinely enjoy the task at hand, but since today was only day 1, it’s hard to assess how the rest of the season will work.
I’m really happy we had the opportunity to participate in the i9 Sports program as well. We’d explored several different soccer programs in the past, including one right at Leila’s school, but it was important that we found a program that would be both fun and effective for them, yet simple and convenient enough for us. So, as for my ideal, ordeal and real deal review of the program, here it goes:
Super convenient for parents! The i9 Sports programs are all only 1 day a week – practice first, followed by a game at the same location. Since my husband and I both work, it’s really hard to commit to a program that meets multiple times a week for practice and games. Multiply that by 2 and we’d officially have no life outside of soccer!
I was able to find a location less than 15 minutes from my home, but there were many more locations available for folks in other parts of town. Parents don’t necessarily have to volunteer for anything (although coaches are welcome!) and there’s no fundraising!
You guessed it – the “everybody wins” idea.
It’s not a very competitive program, as the emphasis is on fair play rather than the score of the game. They welcome all skill levels and allow every kid to play in every game so they’re able to get the practice they need. I’m not so bothered by this because it actually works well for my girls at their ages (6 & 3). Also, given Leila’s initial hesitation (and Samara’s I don’t know what that was), I would agree that a hyper-competitive environment should probably not be their first introduction to soccer.
Now, as my girls develop the necessary skills and determine that they want to become the next Mia Hamm, I may consider moving them into a more competitive environment. However, for now, I know they’re having fun and learning and that’s most important.
The Real Deal
i9 Sports’ focus is providing an experience that focuses on fun, safety, convenience and good sportsmanship and they seem to accomplish that very well. Their goal is simple – “To put the FUN back into youth sports.” It’s what is communicated to the kids, the coaches and even to the parents! Believe it or not, parents actually have to sign an “i9 Sports Parental Pledge” which prohibits any sideline negativity from those rowdy soccer moms and dads!
Besides soccer, i9 Sports offers youth sports leagues, camps and clinics for boys and girls ages 3-17 in today’s most popular sports such as flag football, soccer, basketball, T-Ball and cheerleading. For more information, you can check them out for yourself at www.i9Sports.com.
Disclaimer – I have been provided with a complimentary season of soccer in exchange for my honest (real deal) review of the program. All thoughts and opinions are my own.