In an interview with The Player's Tribune, Megan Rapinoe answered questions from fans, including one sent in from a young girl seeking advice for becoming a US National Team player. Rapinoe gave a candid answer (to both players and parents) that resonates with us at Soccer City's Training Center. Rapinoe is a World Champion, Olympic Gold Medalist and current midfielder for the Seattle Reign in the NWSL.
What did you do at a younger age, like at age 12 (like me) to be able to play on the U.S. Women’s National Team. – Erica
Listen, Erica: I’m going to tell you something you probably don’t hear enough … HAVE FUN! Don’t just concentrate on soccer. Play all kinds of sports. It will help you be more well-rounded athletically and help you have a more well-rounded life. I was lucky from a young age to have coaches who valued creativity on the field and who let me make mistakes. Don’t worry about being perfect out there. Use your imagination. Be creative with the ball. Can I tell you a secret? My teams lost all the time when I was growing up. Don’t worry too much about winning yet. My teams didn’t start winning until I was midway through high school. Oh yeah, and watch a ton of soccer on TV.
Listen, Erica’s parents: People are starting to take youth soccer way too seriously. Don’t have your kids play year-round. They need a break. In reality, 99 percent of kids aren’t going to make it to the pros. But there’s a misconception out there that you can plot your kid’s road to stardom. I sympathize with parents, because I think they’re sold this idea: If you do this, this and this … if you have your child join this club, then do this camp, then meet this coach, then they will be on the path. The only true path is this: Give your child the freedom to have fun and be a kid and see what happens.