My youngest was playing in her last soccer tournament of the season.  This was the last game.  They had played two games the day before and a game earlier in the day.  This was it.

They immediately scored a quick goal on this team and was up 1-0.  Not too long after that her team got control of the ball and was charging down and scored another goal.  That is when it happened.

The goalie started crying.

This girl was probably around 8 years old and was now crying because she had let two goals past.  Her coaches tried to encourage her that it was fine and to shake it off.  But, an 8 year old girl crying isn’t going to be too receptive to that.

Pretty soon, my daughter’s team scored a third goal and now the goalie was really crying hard.  She was crying loud where all the parents knew she was crying.  I don’t know if the coaches were ignoring her hoping she would get it together, but they were focusing on substitutions and yelling instructions to other kids.

This goalie was shell-shocked.  She was standing with her arms folded and trying not to cry anymore.  Then there was a penalty in the goal box and now this goalie had to take on a penalty kick which my daughter was taking.

The other coaches were trying to get her to uncross her arms and get ready.  I was just hoping my daughter had enough control on her kick so it wouldn’t fly straight at this girl because she wasn’t going to move.

My daughter kicked it to the corner of the goal, scored, and they finally took this girl out.  Both sets of parents clapped trying to give her some boost of encouragement that she did fine as she ran off sobbing.

The coach talked with her for a good 5 minutes.  She rested and eventually went back in as a player in the field.  I can certainly imagine what their conversation was like because I’ve been there.

Just this past September in the fall soccer season, my daughter had a similar experience.  She did not want to play goalie, yet they put her in.  The game was tied and she allowed 3 quick goals and was devastated.  She felt she let her team down.

She cried on the car ride back home.  I did not see the game because I was at my older daughter’s game, but I heard about it and talked with my daughter when I got home.  I explained that it is a team effort and it was just a game.  And probably said some other things that I can’t quite remember.

Her response was at her next practice she was going to tell her coach she did not want to play goalie ever again.  As a parent, I hadn’t really thought whether I needed to talk with the coach about how my daughter reacted after this game, but if she was going to talk with the coach, I certainly wasn’t going to stop her.

She did tell the coach and she didn’t play goalie the rest of that fall season.  But, in the first game of the morning this past Sunday before this crying goalie game, you know who was in goal the first half for her team?  That’s right, my daughter.

She played great.  She did allow a goal, but she stopped a bunch of others.  She enjoyed it so much she was asking if we could buy her goalie gloves before the next game.  I would have never thought she would step foot in the goal after what happened last fall.

My takeaways from this experience are this:

  • I still am not sure if it is a good or bad thing that we are making sports so serious for these kids at such a young age. These kids should not be crying in the goal thinking they are letting their teams down for meaningless 8 year old soccer.
  • They are never too young to take responsibility for their actions. I still have high school athletes whose parents feel the need to talk with me about their kids before the kids even approach me on the topic.  If my 8 year old can do it, your older kid certainly can.
  • The worst case scenario has happened to this goalie (in her mind). At some point, she might get put back in goal and be more comfortable playing.  She’ll know that if she lets a goal score, it is not the end of the world and hopefully forget about it real quick.  She’s been there, done that.

Even though this was an awkward moment witnessing this little girl crying letting goal after goal go by, hopefully it will be spun into a positive for her athletic development in the future.

Please list in the comments’ box below any other positive takeaways you can see in this situation.