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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Here Come the Kids

Here in the suburbs, you see them everywhere: Kids attired in short pants, jerseys, cleats and shin guards. It must be time for youth soccer. And, by far, the biggest outfit promoting and diecting the sport is AYSO, American Youth Soccer Organization. It's been around since the 1970s. It's impact in San Mateo County is huge. With a longtime motto heralding that "Everyone plays," AYSO has an estimated 10,000-12,000 participants on the Peninsula. San Mateo AYSO's Web site proclaims it has more than 2,000. Redwood City has 1,500. San Bruno is close to that figure. Through the decades, the program has expanded its age brackets. Today, pre-schoolers as young as 41/2 are eligible to play. Any attempt to coach these tots is like attempting to herd cats. For most, it's their first taste of athletic competition. We can debate whether it's wise to start the nippers in any organized sport at such a young age at a later date. Suffice it to say, however, not everyone sees the wisdom in such a practice. Still, in an era when obese children are a growing national concern, just about anything that gets them outside and exercising away from the lure of video games and iPads can't be a bad thing.

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