Grasshopper Soccer is an Australian company that aims to teach the basics of soccer to children aged 2-12 years, in a fun, social and non-competitive environment. The soccer programs are suitable for both boys and girls and run for 8 weeks during the school term all year round, and in all weather (unless notified due to really bad conditions).
We were invited along to the Grasshopper sessions taking place on Saturday mornings on the Pearsall Primary School field. My two girls (Miss 3 and Miss 7) were both keen to give it a go.
Miss 3 joined the Mite class, which is 35 minutes long – a good length of time for the little ones. Parent participation is needed at this age to help keep the little ones focused, but the friendly Coach, Ian, and his two assistant coaches are also very hands on, making sure that everyone has a go and is not discouraged if the ball doesn’t do what they want it to do!
In this class the aim is to help develop motor skills, balance and coordination as well as to have fun with Mum or Dad while they get to know more about soccer. Smaller Mite coaching balls are used – these are easier for small feet and help your child gain confidence while they develop the basic skills of soccer.
The enthusiastic coach leads some fun games involving colourful cones and buckets and mastering how to kick the ball where you want it to go. Parents need to try to encourage their children to stay on task, but the environment is not strict or formal, therefore allowing for all the usual unpredictable stuff that Toddlers do. After a good start, Miss 3 got a bit anxious and refused to join in, instead preferring to watch from the sidelines. The coach tried to entice her back but didn’t push the issue. In his experience, some children take a few weeks to get comfortable and more involved.
To build team spirit at the end the coach asks all the children to pile their hands on top of his and follows this with a big cheer with all hands up in the air. A great way to end an enjoyable class! Stickers and stamps and a take home colouring-in sheet are offered to the kids.
My 7 year old then joined in the Micro class, which is 75 minutes long. This class introduces and develops soccer skills in a fun and team-oriented environment. It begins with a warm-up session followed by some fun activities that focus on developing different ball skills, and ends with two small-sided soccer games to see those skills in action.
Miss 7 loved the first Pirate Activity, which involved pirate commands such as “Scrub the Deck”, “Land Ahoy” and “Walk the Plank” for certain ball actions. Miss 7’s favourite was “Man overboard” followed by a shark (the coach) coming to catch them! This activity focused on moving around the field and gaining good control of your ball.
The next activity focused on team work and passing skills, with the kids holding hands and working together to get the ball around a marker and back to the start. It looked like a lot of fun!
Another activity involved a Piggy in the Middle and passing the ball to avoid the Piggy getting it. Every time a ball gets kicked too far, another one is brought in from a stock of balls so that no time is wasted fetching balls. The Coach also encouraged regular water breaks in-between the activities.
The kids then split into two teams to play a real game of 15 minutes to put their skills to the test. Cones were used in the goals instead of Goalkeepers so that all the kids could participate on the field instead. If the cones were knocked over by a ball then a goal had not been scored.
The three coaches spread out on the field and remained actively involved helping and guiding the kids as they played. I was really struck by how much energy the main Coach, Ian, maintained throughout the morning. His enthusiasm and encouragement remained constant, making sure that all the kids were included, had a turn and were not discouraged in any way. He spoke to them by name and kept an eye on everyone’s progress, giving positive praise and guidance all the way through.
There was still time for a final game, which involved the kids vs the coaches – a great motivation to rev up some last energy and team spirit. Miss 7 loved the fact that the kids won!
The class ended off with a hand pile and cheer. The kids were tired but happy and the atmosphere was one of good sportsmanship and positive team spirit, cultivating a real enjoyment of the game.
Miss 7 immediately asked when we could come back again. So we’re signing up for next term! Success 😉
Dress code: Whatever your child feels comfortable in (but sun wise) and closed shoes. There are vibrant green Grasshopper t-shirts and shorts to purchase if you wish to do so.
First Aid: The coaches all have first aid training and a first aid kit on hand for any little mishaps.
Spectators: Parents are welcome to stay – bring a chair and settle in for the duration on the sidelines. Cheering is welcomed – parents are encouraged to support their children.
See the Grasshopper Soccer website for more information and how to enrol in a class near you.
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