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As the 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia this month, the eyes of the world will be following and cheering on the best players of the game. Children in every country will become inspired by watching their favorite players or team. And while the odds of your child becoming a professional soccer player are around 1 in 6,000 for high school students, the lessons learned on the field can leave a lasting impact on children.

As a team sport that requires athletes to trust and rely on each other, children that grow up playing soccer can develop multiple character-building lessons from the game. The list below is not a complete list, but only a few examples of positive outcomes children gain from playing soccer.

Communication

The game of soccer helps teach and develop communication and conflict-management skills in children. Because the game doesn’t allow for timeouts for a coach to reset a plan or give clear directions, soccer players develop the ability to communicate with each other during the play of game. In some cases, this means being a leader on the field and helping to support and challenge team mates; a skill that becomes increasingly useful later in life and in the workplace.

Trust

As talented as one player may be, he or she needs to trust and rely on the help of 10 other players on the field with them. In addition to teaching teamwork, children learn to trust others to help them. For a young child playing goalie, they learn to understand the role and importance of each defender, and they build trust in knowing that each defender is focused on making the job of the goalie as easy as possible.

Confidence

One of the best qualities that soccer can provide for a child is building their confidence. When surrounded by encouraging teammates, coaches, and parents, children are able to take risks and become confident in trying new things. When praised the correct way, children develop a “growth mindset”, meaning their confidence is rooted in their ability to persevere, even when things are challenging. As a result, a growth mindset will carry over to helping children succeed in school and work.  

If you’re a parent or a coach, the responsibility is primarily on you to create an encouraging environment where a child feels comfortable playing soccer and more than anything else, enjoys it. Even though it’s fun to dream of seeing your child on the world stage competing someday, remember, the benefits and positive impact will come during their time playing as a child.