This doesn’t just apply to baseball, folks.
To say that our first ever street soccer cage event- filled weekend was a success would be an understatement. Thanks to our friends at Mettle Sports and Massachusetts Youth Soccer, we were able to host a 3 vs. 3 street soccer Food Donation tournament for high schoolers, free pickup games for anyone interested, and a full youth clinic for children ranging in ages 3-10. The weekend was a whirlwind. However, when the dust settled, we could not believe all we learned and all we took away. We have tried to condense our findings into four points, but it has been hard to fully capture all that came from this special opportunity. Here is what you need to know about why our community needs a permanent street soccer cage now more than ever.
1.) This game and surface brings people in If you have never seen a Mettle Sports cage up close, you need to add it onto your list of necessities. Whether you’re a coach, player, or general lover of the game, you will be in awe of what happens when a pitch like this is dropped. With the help of many hands, the street soccer cage was put together throughout the course of an afternoon. No, it was not an easy feat by any means. Yet, as the field took shape, everyone knew it was going to be something special. The boards began to take hold of one another and nets were strewn atop the cross bars. In the middle of a concrete parking lot in Hyannis, MA, a small world was being crafted. A world that would hold athletes: young and old, newcomers to the game and seasoned professionals, people born here and born across the globe. In what seemed like an instant, the largeness of our surroundings came in and with it so did the people of our community. Even if only for a few hours, phones were away and people were fully engaged. The spectators who surrounded the boards were just as involved as the players who were battling it out inside. People passing on the sidewalk or bringing their kids to a neighboring little league field were stopping to see what this was all about. The energy was positive and palpable. We were in; we were all in.
2.) It changes how we play the game and shows us our strengths Street soccer is an entity all unto itself. Sure, the fundamentals of traditional soccer exist, but there are added elements that are necessary to find success within this style of play. It’s quick- really quick. A player’s awareness is heightened as they are in overdrive trying to be aware of their positioning, the dynamics of using the boards, the placement and size of the goals, and the speed of the ball as it drives across the concrete. To play in this fashion takes a great deal of confidence on the ball and confidence in yourself. As you can imagine, playing on concrete brings some minor concerns. You have players and parents asking, “But what is someone falls”? The answer is simple- you get right back up. Some people argue that grit cannot be taught. It is something you either have instinctually or not. We might argue that a little. Sometimes, it’s our job as adults and coaches to explain to a kid that it’s ok. They’re going to be ok. A scraped knee is not the end of the world, and the game will go on with or without them. It’s no secret that this logic is not specific to the game of soccer. We want kids to carry these lessons with them wherever they may go. We are even so daring as to claim that this style of play also helps parents get recognize the strength and resilience of their kids. It’s something that makes us all proud.
3.) It’s family With the boards standing a few feet high, there were moments throughout the weekend where you would catch a glimpse of a tuft of hair or small fingers latched along the sideline’s edge. These were siblings. They were cousins and family friends. They were little ones who came to watch and were eager to see what was happening inside. More visible were the parents, aunts, uncles, and doting grandparents all surrounding the cage. They were watching the games, having conversations with one another, and providing snacks and drinks when it was time for a break. They too were an integral part of the moment. If only we had a drone to take a photograph of the story being told. It was a field containing young athletes - surrounded by the people who love them most. We were this layered ring of people all holding each other in. We were teaching each other and learning from one another. We were family in every sense of the word. And with the waning days of family dinners and quality time together, you could tell is was so very needed by all.
4.) It’s diversity and having a place in your community - even if that community is new to you Although street soccer may seem new and stylish in the United States, it has existed long before it became a popular here. The reality is there are players from across the globe who learned the beautiful game on the streets because it was the only option. When having a state of the art pitch or even just having grass is a luxury, you play where you can- often barefoot and dodging whatever may lay in your path. No goals? No problem. You can make them out of rocks, trashcans, or whatever else can act as “posts”. No ball? No problem. We have seen some of the most innovative designs of items being strung together to make something resembling a ball. One thing is for sure, when someone loves this game, they make it work. The reason we say this is because soccer is a universal game. It can be played anywhere and by anyone, so it tends to draw a more dynamic crowd than other sports. As a result of this, we noticed the diversity of both players and spectators as soon as the cage was ready to be played in. Many people are not aware of the myriad demographics of people live on Cape Cod. We are an ever-growing place of cultural diversity. Throughout our cage soccer weekend, we had players and families from places such as Jamaica, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, etc. Many of these families are new to Cape Cod and looking for a way to plant roots. Soccer can be that place for them.
Long story short, our community needs this. In a world that is as complex as ours and unfortunately so often divided, it seems like a no brainer to do our part to create an environment that pulls us together and hold us all in. If a handmade soccer cage is the way to do that, let’s get building.
The UKSD Blog