Ella tried out for soccer this year and didn’t get into the team she wanted to get into. She’s played in Division 2 for the last couple of years, and this year she hoped to get into Div 1. To be in Division 1, you have to be a really good player. And she is. Just ask her coach, and every other parent from our team last year. And ask Ella! Because she knows that she can totally kick that ball further and more accurately than just about anybody.
We had a long talk about how the selection process was never going to allow her to show the selectors what she can really do. The trials were held over two sessions, and both times the girls were given drills – short passes between players, dribbling the ball around witches’ hats, controlling the ball etc – but not given an opportunity to do all the other stuff that makes a good player really good. For example, taking a corner kick and sending it curling through the air and landing right in front of the net. Or tackling another player then turning and running the length of the field before absolutely booting it up and over the keepers’ hands and into the top corner of the net. Or getting clear of your defender and finding some space so that your team-mate can pass you the ball. Yeah, she can totally do all of that.
At the end of the long talk she seemed to be OK with it. She’s excited to be playing in the same team with five of the girls from her team last year, plus a couple of other girls she knows from school (accentuate the positive!). Also, Div 1 means training twice a week, while Div 2 is just once a week, so she can maintain her busy after-school social life.
Although I would never presume to tell the selectors who they ought to be picking for the Div 1 team, I might ask that they take the time to watch a couple of games this season and just see how much they miss out on by limiting the selection process to ball skills and a 20-minute, 10-a-side kick-around on a pitch the size of a basketball court. Ella was really upset that she didn’t get to take a corner or a free kick during the trials and she wants the selectors to know that. So, I’ll pass that on.
And somewhere in there I’ll start to feel better about that young girl who played netball from Under 9s until the end of college but who never got picked for the Representative Squad even though everyone told her, year after year, that she was good enough and should definitely try out because this is the year she was gonna get picked.