West Jordan Youth Soccer League finds success with silent sidelines | West Jordan Journal

The West Jordan youth soccer teaches teamwork, leadership and sportsmanship to players as young as 3 years old. (Greg James/City Journals)

By Greg James |  gregj@mycityjournals.com

The coach’s cheeks turned scarlet red as the referee missed
an obvious call against his team, yet his lips sat clenched, and his complaint
was quiet enough for a public library. It was silent Saturday at the West
Jordan soccer complex.

Silent Saturday is the name given to the day on which the
coaches are asked not to coach and parents are asked not cheer or give
direction. There is no shouting, no yelling, no threatening officials or
swearing at fathers from the opposing team.

“We have done this for a while,” West Jordan Youth Soccer
president Chad Barnett said. “We have found this beneficial and are trying to
do it in the spring and the fall.” 

This concept has been extremely successful in clubs all
across the country. It helps players concentrate and learn to communicate with
each other on the field. Parents were asked to find new and creative ways to
cheer (posters, hand waving, etc.). The coaches were able to instruct during quarter breaks
 and halftime, but for the most part, the players were left
to play the game without constant direction from the sideline.

“It helps promote sportsmanship,” Barnett said. “In the
older age groups, it allows the players to play without having to be told from
the sideline what to do. The kids learn to figure it out themselves. It also
gives one week as a reminder not to yell and complain. The older more
competitive teams sometimes have the sportsmanship problems.” 

West Jordan Youth Soccer is a recreation league and member
of the Utah Youth Soccer Association. The league supports more than 1,250 kids
and more the 120 teams. It’s players range from ages 3 to 18.

The league also hosted a street soccer event May 9. Children
of all ages were welcome in the ”pick-up” style soccer game. It was free to all
players. The kids organized their own teams, coached themselves and called
their own fouls. 

“It was a fun weeknight get together,” Barnett said. “We had
a good turnout, and the kids all seemed to have fun. The idea was just like a
pickup basketball game. We also try to organize events throughout the year. We
also offered clinic style camps at the beginning of the spring—something
different to keep everyone excited.” 

The league was part of the recreation night at an RSL game
earlier this season. Many players were involved in opening ceremonies and halftime
games. 

The recreation league has developed many players to advance to
competition and high school teams. 

“I coach a competition level team, and more than half of the
players on the team started playing at West Jordan Youth Soccer,” Barnett said.
“We have lots of clubs interested in offering camps to our players as a way of
getting exposure to our players.” 

The league’s core values include promoting and enhancing
sportsmanship; player, parent and coach development; and improvement of
referees. The volunteer league board strives to maintain and teach these values
throughout the seasons.

Registration for West Jordan Youth Soccer is now open
through June 20. It includes fall and spring seasons, a uniform, soccer ball,
pictures and a participation award.

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