Soccer is for people of all ages – even the little ones! Several years ago, AYSO created Jamboree, or the U-5 program, for four-year-olds, and 2015 will be the first year it is available in Region 599. In Jamboree, children get to play soccer in an age-specific program, and you, the parents, get to participate with them.
In Jamboree, each team is made up of four players and each player will have a parent (or other adult) with them on the field. The children learn soccer skills like kicking, dribbling, and throwing in the ball, but in a low-pressure setting. Jamboree is about exposing children to soccer, not grooming them for college scholarships.
There are no assigned coaches to each team. Parents help take turns organizing the teams, setting up fields and supervising the program on Saturdays. Parents are guided by a Master Coach who has planned and leads the activities for the day. There are no mid-week practices.
Each Saturday session last 1 hour and 15 minutes. It starts with the Master Coach explaining the day’s activities to the helping parents. The Master Coach then divides the kids into teams of 4 or 5 players, who then participate in the activities with the parent helpers. After a short water break, the games are organized with teams playing each other in 20 minute games of 3 v 3 (no goalkeepers). While their children are playing the game portion of the activity, parent volunteers keep time, but interfere with play as little as possible. There are only a few reasons to stop play in Jamboree games. If a child is not playing well with others, or if play must pause for injury, substitution, confusion, or to watch a flock of birds fly by, parents can quickly direct attention back to the game.
In Jamboree, goals are not counted to determine who wins – every player is a winner. Young players need to get a feel for the ball and the field, so even though there are adults all around and many opportunities to offer instruction, the emphasis is on fun and play. It’s a different kind of game in U-5, but the children still wear uniforms (provided by AYSO), cleats and shin guards. Best of all, they find out that soccer is something they can do.