"Push her back! C'mon, get in there!"
The mom in the lawn chair next to me leaned forward, shouting mightily to her daughter on the field. The opposing player had been running hard alongside the girl as she tried to move the ball down the field. Suddenly her arms came up and she gave a swift, almost covert shove. Our player plunged to the ground, while her opponent took off down the field with the ball.
"They need to get more aggressive out there. Our girls aren't being nearly physical enough," the mom growled.
I watched with my stomach in knots as the more experienced team our girls were playing their very first game against continued to dominate, not by fair play, but by foul.
The banter and angry shouts to stoop to their level of play continued from the other parents on our side of the field. Then the referee blew his whistle to call a player on elbowing.
"Finally!" yelled one of the dads.
This was how our first club soccer game went a week and a half ago. And I find myself in the peculiar situation of having to explain to my daughter about playing clean, but also about following the coach's instructions. In talking to the coach, he basically said it came down to morals (following official rules of soccer which don't allow for elbowing) or doing what the ref will let you get away with. I wonder if this coach will sometimes follow the other team's lead in terms of "dirty play". I've told my daughter to not do anything wrong on the field, but to also follow instructions from the coach (and NOT the parents on the sidelines).
Sigh. It was so much easier when it was just at the park district level. I'm also left to wonder, have we done the right thing?