Transcript of our interview with Nathaniel & Marina, Parent
What's unique about the program at Power Soccer School that made you want to register your child there?
Nathaniel: We first were introduced to Power Soccer by going to a facility in East York called MPS, which our son was initially registered in. And then we saw these kids doing some drills that look like advanced stuff, and I was like, I want my son to be a part of that program. So I went to their head office, and I said, “How do I get my son registered in Power Soccer School?” And they suggested we come out to a school, try it out, and see what happens. And then after they assessed him, they pretty much just scooped him up and brought him into the academy. So it all happened fairly quickly, but we felt that we wanted to give our son the best possible advantage when it comes to soccer. So we jumped around, and Power FC seemed to fit that bill.
Marina: When we did speak to them, too, they had a style of the way they were running their academy that seemed that it wasn't parent-run because if we wanted something that was parent-run, we would have done it ourselves. But it was their style of coaching, their style of teaching that involved continual learning, as opposed to, Oh, your kid is fast, so we're going to make him a striker,. So it wasn't about that, it was about learning the game.
And because he was still young, it was also making sure that he enjoyed playing soccer and that they could nurture that sense of play while teaching. So it didn't seem like it was just, all, You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that as if it was military style. It was very much, We're going to teach your son to love soccer, we’re going to teach him how to play the game of soccer in all of its facets, as opposed to just you telling us that we want our son to be the best soccer player ever or we want him to play striker because he's quick.
Was this your child's first experience with Power Soccer School?
Nathaniel: As I said, we had him registered in something else, and he was doing a number of things. He was doing gymnastics, he was doing baseball, and what have you. But he really gravitated towards the soccer. Every possible moment he was out in the field with the soccer ball, he was just doing it on his own. So for him to now have a more structured environment to learn was instrumental in his abilities and in improving.
Was there any change or noticeable personal growth you saw in your child after his time at Power Soccer School?
Marina: It's really interesting because I feel any parent could probably attest that boy-children are different than girl-children—not in terms of liking competition, because honestly, I 100% believe that girls are more competitive than boys, especially when it comes to sports. But I do feel that it helped him learn how to control his emotions from the perspective of all kids. They want to win. I'm faster, I'm better, I can kick harder. But it was also about, yes, you're going to lose, but it's not about just losing and walking off in a huff, which is what used to happen, but it's also, okay, How can we get better, not just as an individual but as a team? And then how can you improve and how can you manage that emotion of, well, you lost today, but guess what: You're going to play them next week. What are we going to do next week? And that's something that comes also with age. Sometimes, unfortunately, we as parents, we ascribe adult emotions to children, but he's still a child. He hasn't even developed.
I mean, we're still trying to negotiate over doing homework. So I think one thing they did that I was very pleased to see: they assisted in that personal growth by helping him understand that, yes, winning is great, but it's not the only thing, and it's not the most important thing. And this I know for a fact is going to be continual, not just a momentary thing. It's a path. Because I'll be honest: I hate losing, but I'm an adult, so I can see that. But yeah, definitely they have helped in that emotional growth and making that transition as he gets older, expressing those feelings, and helping to manage those feelings as well.
Sometimes it's tough, as a parent to have to figure out how to show that it's okay to lose even if in your head you're like I hate losing. And not because we don't want him to lose or not to win, but it's not the only thing that can happen. One thing we have noticed is that when he has lost, it's okay [and he is like] This is what I'll do different.
So you see it. You see that whole mentality. Again, as an adult, it's like, I'm winning at all costs, but my costs are different than kids.
If you hadn't sent your child to Power Soccer School, what's the most important facet of personal growth that they would've missed out on?
Nathaniel: For him, my son: He could play soccer 24/7. So over the course of the camp, we tried to put him in something else, and that didn't go so well. He's established a community of sorts with these other camp participants. So l to this day, he's made friends where they call each other all the time, and they're going to be friends for life now, based on their experience within the camp. It's just unbelievable.
Marina: If we didn't have him in Power Soccer, I think we would have had to find another way to expend all of his energies. Because he's an only child, so he doesn't have another child at home to play with. So it's nice that he does have that sense of community as well as a way to expend all that energy.
How can a parent support their child to get the most out of Power Soccer School?
Marina: I think both of us will agree that you just let your kid be a kid. Let your child follow the program as it is provided. Meaning, as a parent, we always have an opinion about how things should go: Oh, my kid isn't playing enough. Oh, they're not winning enough. Oh, he should be playing more or less, or whatever. But one thing that Power Soccer has done when we first started, from just the fun part and it went to the academy, is they basically told us the plan. They said, “Look, parents, this is our style of coaching. These are the type of coaches we have. This is the emotional—the mental—support that we're trying to offer to all of our students.”
And so I think any parent that wants their child to get the best out of it—and I'm not saying you can't disagree, you can't have opinions, speak to the coaches or speak to the directors—but understand that it's not just a regular style of soccer that they're trying to teach. They're trying to teach these kids how to play and understand the game, and play at their best level. Even if they're not going to be playing professionally, that's fine. But they want to pull the best out of your child, so you have to allow them to do so.
So whether your child is the best and is going to play up a level, or maybe your girl child is going to play with the boys squad one day because she's really good, let them do that. And if you have any feelings about it—negative, positive—as a parent, you speak to the director, you speak to the coaches. But let your child know that what the coach says is what they’re doing, not what your child thinks. Because again, as parents, we're biased. They’re our kids, and our kids are always great.
But just because we think our son is great, that doesn't mean that his development is going to go the way we think it's going to go, because they're the ones that are coaching him. Parents have to decide if Power Soccer is the right fit for their kids. But if it is, then you respect it and teach your child to respect what they're learning and how they're going to grow and how to be the best player, but also be the best athlete and the best person. Because they're also learning how to speak to coaches and learning how to speak to referees and vice versa.
Nathaniel: So one of the things that I do is I make sure that my son has enough snacks because that’s important. They need their energy, they need their drinks. You want to give a variety of things so that they are well-equipped for the day. I drop off my son and I kiss him on the head and then I leave. At that point, it becomes the responsibility of the coaches and whatnot, and I want my son to know that he's no longer in my charge once I drop [him off].
And then I show up at the end of the day. I usually come in a little bit earlier just to see a little bit of his game. I just take a mental note of how many goals he's scoring and whatnot and what problems might arise in those 15 minutes. And then we can talk about it on the way home or not talk about it because he waits to speak to his mom.
Marina: There's a certain independence that you have as an athlete, especially when you're a child, because you learn how to play with others, but then you also figure out whether you’re good in team settings or not. And then you can kind of, either work around it or work through it. But you learn that, again, they're little humans that think differently. So we can't impose our wishes on them.
So if I was a soccer player back in the day, and I was a failed soccer player, I shouldn't impose that on my child. And, okay, well, you're going to be better than me because guess what: He's his own person? And it's funny, because even from a camp perspective, I think these are things that when your hubby said let your child go, and they become the responsibility of the academy, you're teaching your child that you find your path, you find your way, and I will be here to support you.
It may not be your path, but at least we tried it. And then, if it's not your path, we'll go somewhere different. But I will say for us personally, that our experience with Power FC and their camp and the academy too, is that it's been a positive experience for us and for our job as parents, because we're trying to follow the advice we're given.
What does your child say about Power Soccer School, either to you or that you may have heard them say to friends or others?
Nathaniel: My son does Google searches to see what the rating is on particular clubs and camps, and he wants to make sure that his is among the top. He's a huge fan of his club, and he's not leaving any time soon. He loves Power FC.
Marina: Yes, he has pride in it. So JC is a very competitive person, and he already has in his head the rivalries with other clubs. So, yeah, he believes he's in the right club to deal with all these rivalries. And he believes Power of Soccer is superior to every thing else, and he has got enemies that he plans to conquer in the next set of tournaments.
But he does have the frustrations of, Oh, I don't get this, or they don't say this, and that's to me, normal child stuff. But his experience has been positive and because he speaks highly of it, he's there and we keep him there. If at any point we felt as parents that the experience was negative or what we were seeing wasn't growth, we were just seeing like, this doesn't feel right, then we would have taken him out. But it does feel good to us. And we've been very fortunate that anything that we've had to say to Power Soccer, whether it be about the camp or anything, has been well received by the director and by the coaches.
Marina: If you want your child to have a good experience, even if it's really, truly just for a week, Power Soccer is great. I'll tell you, they know how to put the right combination of kids together. And it's not just all the boys together or all the girls together—t's mixed. Right. But even if your child is at the basic level and they have two left feet, it's okay because they make them feel part of it.
I would say to parents, it's tough being a parent in Toronto, but if you want good bang for your buck, this is it. If you want people that actually care about your kids, this is it.
And they actually know all of the kids. So it's fascinating to watch. And I think that's something that's very important as a parent, to know that your child isn't just okay that came week one. Tell other parents that we're here if you want to come back again, or if you are like JC who was there pretty much the entire summer, you’ll get to know all the coaches and all the coaches will get to know you. And as a parent, it was nice knowing that they knew who my child was. I felt confident that they were actually looking out for him and he was learning and it was money well spent.
Nathaniel: The thing that's really nice is a lot of the coaches were former campers. So they come back and train and they know the whole system.
Marina: So all of that together is something that makes it a good bet for parents. That it's not just some random coaches coming from off the street or from different leagues—that they've been through the program themselves. They are soccer players themselves. Power Soccer highly values both its women and male coaches, which is very important, and the kids get to see this as well.