From Humble Beginnings

Since 1986, Fun Fair Positive Soccer (FFPS) has been providing a positive environment for kids of all abilities to enjoy the wonderful game of youth soccer. Jack Hendrie started the program in Katy, Texas after he and other local parents noticed that many soccer leagues put a ton of pressure on kids and focused on winning as the main point of the game. Creating FFPS was a way to change the kind of soccer experience kids were having and make the experience as fun, fair and positive for everyone involved. From humble beginnings with only 150 players in its very first season. Today there are over 16,000 players participating in over 21 FFPS programs in the Greater Houston area! 

Modern Challenges, Require Modern Solutions

Did you know that 71% of all children quit most youth activities by age 13? The two main reasons are very insightful; (1.) Being yelled at too much for making mistakes (2.) Not getting enough playing time overall.

How could we ensure the most fun and solve these issues? (1.) By designing the program around the children’s needs, not the parents or the coaches. The players always comes first at FFPS!! (2.) Secondly, the “Equal Substitution System”. This specially designed substitution system means all players rotate to every position and each player plays equally in that game. Plus, there are no all-star teams or tryouts either. All of this keeps FFPS games as fair as possible.  

Next, we asked ourselves, how can we structure the youth soccer program to benefit everyone? What does the child ultimately want from this experience? We’ve discovered children crave these 3 basics things: (1.) To Play, (2.) Being Respected (3.) Feeling Safe.

How Do We Accomplish This Feat? First, More Soccer Ball Touches!

The core foundation of FFPS is the 5-a-side rule —5 players per side instead of 11 per side. This dynamic youth soccer format allows everyone on the field to get the ball multiple times, which means children learn quicker and the game is much more enjoyable overall. The average field size in FFPS is 100 feet by 75 feet compared to the much larger fields in other youth soccer leagues. For 34 years, FFPS has been using this engaging style of play and enabling kids to really get to play across Houston. 

Creating a Positive Environment for Everyone

Creating a safe place for children to enjoy youth soccer is an incredibly important aspect of our core philosophy at FFPS. We do not allow any derogatory comments or persistent yelling that would belittle, distract or embarrass players. “We ask that if you must yell, use encouragement!  Finally, we teach coaches and parents to use one of these four words before they say anything, Go….. Good…. Great….. Nice…..

Lastly, to help ensure the games are “For The Kids” only the players can announce the score. Not the Coach, not the parents, not the League. To guarantee these results, we provide a free 6 hours of required training for the Coaches.

Learn More About FFPS Today!

Youth Sports Should be Stress Free

Children want to play and parents want their children to perform well. This conflict is played out all the time in youth sports. In a ‘USA Today’ Survey in 1991, 38% of the children said they would prefer that their parents did not attend their activity and 45% said they could not sleep the night before worrying about the event.

What happened? All children want is to have fun and play ball with their friends. Have we gone too far in pushing kids to win and be their best?

Coaches Vs. Parents… Never a Fun Experience

There is an active lawsuit where parents are suing the Cy-Fair School District for not allowing their child to play, and therefore denying him the possibility of a scholarship. The coach’s defense for not playing the boy was disciplining him for poor behavior. However, the parents say their child lost out on being noticed by scouts and was being unfairly treated by the coaches. This lawsuit is the result of the unfortunate importance and money placed on sports at younger and younger ages.

Ultra Competitive Youth Sports Isn’t for Everyone

The myth of college sports not being highly selective and competitive is bad for youth sports. The odds are 1 in 40,000, and most do not graduate with their scholarship due to grades or performance on the field. Plus, if they do play all 4 years, at most schools the graduation rate is only 20% to 50%, and the odds of a pro career is 1 in 1,000,000. The lottery has better odds.

So, why are parents risking so much? Well, parents want what is best for their children, while coaches want what is best for their team. Youth sports have become more about money and prestige when it should be about including everyone and allowing children to have fun, positive experiences.

Creating a Fun, Fair, Positive, Environment for Everyone!

So, what can parents do? Go back to the basics! Kids want to play and have fun, it’s as simple as that! Parents need to do their best to foster a fun, fair, and positive environment for everyone. Let kids enjoy being kids.

Learn More About FFPS Today!

Being Rewarded is Important

So there it is – all shiny and made of pure gold. It might be plastic but the kids can’t tell. That amazing piece of artistry on a marble base that makes Michelangelo blush… it is so magnificent. It is what every kid dreams of when they start playing soccer or any sport for that matter. Not really, although it’s called a “participation trophy”. For some unfortunate reason, it has become a talking point for parents when discussing the good and bad of youth sports.

Now when I grew up a long time ago, there was no discussion about the participation trophy. Only the winning team gets a trophy. If we are playing youth sports and I need to win to get a trophy, then put me on the winning team. It’s not the child’s choice to win or lose in a team sport.

Win or Lose, Everyone Deserves to be Recognized

In the end, winning and losing is not always a matter of how good a child’s skill maybe overall – it is how good the team is as a whole. There are many variables to how good a team might turn out to be, most of which are out of the children’s control. When children participate in soccer, they’re told they must win if they want a trophy. When did showing up and trying your hardest in youth sports for weeks not become a rewarding achievement?

If you do something good at your job doesn’t it help when someone says great job? Or maybe when you and the team get a bonus in the form of money. Now, what if the company did a great job as a team – should we not reward them with something so they continue to achieve? If they knew they would be rewarded for showing up every day for work, would they not try to do well? The participation trophy of the work environment is money, oftentimes in the form of a bonus.

Being Rewarded in Everyday Life

There seems to be a major argument as to why children should not be given a participation trophy. I am a firm believer that when you allow a child to blossom to their full potential in youth sports, they will enjoy sports more overall. Kids already put enough pressure on themselves to impress anyone watching, they don’t need an added element of an arbitrary scoreboard determining if they get a trophy.

When we go to a fast-food restaurant, what do kids get in that meal that adults do not get? I am not talking about the better deal and price. I am referring to the toy that accompanies almost every child’s meal at any fast food restaurant in America. It’s like a participation trophy of the fast-food industry. Yet nobody has a problem with rewarding every child in a meal. Why do we care more about what kids are doing in youth sports than what they are eating and putting in their growing bodies? I would argue that a reward for ordering an artery-clogging grease burger in a fast-food establishment should be a much more important discussion.

At FFPS Everyone Deserves a Trophy!

So let’s give all kids a reward for going out every soccer game and meeting friends while having fun at their pace. Let’s give all children a reason to participate in youth sports. Let’s encourage them along the way with positive reinforcement so they will continue to play. More positive growth in a child is gained by giving a participation trophy than will ever be lost.

Learn More About FFPS Today!

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