Playing Indoor Soccer[twitter]”We’re bored,” I said to my wife last night as we sat on the couch flipping back between the Jimmies (Kimmel and Fallon).

She laughed and nodded. “Yup.”

When you have kids, things change. With bedtimes at 8p, there’s no midweek movies, dinners, or social events you can easily attend. Especially when you don’t have a babysitter.

So we end up staying in. The routine is predictable. Pick up the kids from school, play at the park, make dinner, have dinner, have bath, watch some shows, read some books, go to bed. Same every night.

We’re bored.

As much as I don’t want to be an overscheduling parent pushing my kids in all different directions, we’ve managed to successfully underschedule our kids. Swimming lessons once a week, soccer once a week starting this weekend. That’s it. It’s not enough.

We’ve been sorely lacking in team sports for our kids – a chance for them (and us) to make friends in the community. So we signed up for soccer. I attended the soccer info night last night and realized we’re doing it wrong.

“This is supposed to be fun,” the organizer cheered. “There is no scoreboard, there are no teams, there are no goalies. This is about running around and having fun. Check your competitive spirit at the door,” she repeated at least a dozen times.

While I welcome the return to free play roots where kids just get out and have fun, the pendulum has swung too far. In response to the competitive parents who bully officials, push kids too hard, and make sports less fun, the association tried to strip away any sense of competition. The middle ground of team, skill, and fun had evaporated.

As I searched for Calgary soccer leagues and clubs for kids in our area to join, they bragged of their academy programs, their technical training, and their skill development. Perhaps it’s just the formal language of soccer where practice is referred to as “training” and coaches are called “technical directors,” but much of it just seemed far more than what we needed.

Zacharie Soccer

I wanted a practice, a game, a team. I didn’t need 4 nights a week to drown my son in competitive soccer, I just wanted a fun, casual team for him to join, learn team play, and practice some skill development. It was hard to find. The clubs were either ‘all-in’ or ‘all-out.’ The friendly 3 on 3 league is a reaction to the uber competitive nature of amateur sport that turns so many kids off from participating, but what happened to the ‘middle?’

In the end, after much canvassing other parents in Facebook groups, and on Twitter, I think I found a home for our son that will be twice a week, on a team, practicing, and playing games. We found that middle ground. But why was it so hard?

2 days a week soccer for Zacharie, swimming for both, and one day a week soccer for Charlie. Compared to the plates of parents I see who juggle gymnastics, soccer, school, and hockey, it’s nothing. But it will be a new challenge for us, and hopefully one that leaves us a little less bored.

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