Recreational Soccer League for 8 year old

After lessons at Bladium and courses like Soccer Shots,  my son is interested in joining a recreation soccer league for the fall. We are considering both Montclair and East Bay United. 
Would be curious to get feedback from parents on the quality of the coaching and the organizations in general. Also, both leagues' websites and overall communications on when the practices are and where the games and practices are held is vague so any intel on that would also be great. 

Thank you! 

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I have been a rec soccer coach in both Montclair and EBU, and I can tell you they are very, very similar - virtually identical in many ways except for the locations of the practice fields. (Montclair is centered around Montclair, of course. And EBU is more centered around North Oakland.) I'm currently with EBU and can share more about that. If your son is 8 right now, I'm guessing he'll be in 3rd grade in the fall, which would place him in the U10 age group. U10 rec games are kind of all over the place - mostly in Alameda, but also throughout Oakland. Most U10 rec teams in EBU have their weekday practices at Bushrod Park in Oakland. For all age groups, fall season games typically start the last weekend in August and run for 10 weeks through early November. For rec teams, there is one weekday practice per week, and practices start in mid-August. They generally try to form teams with groups of kids who attend the same schools (makes carpooling easier + more fun for the kids to play with their buddies.) The cost to play fall soccer also automatically includes the spring soccer season, which usually goes for 8 weeks in April/May and only includes games but not the weekday practice. 

The huge downside to all of this is that they don't get the schedules sorted out until a week or two before the season starts. This has to do with securing access to playing fields. So as coaches, we put in a list of requested locations and days/times for our weekly practices, but we don't find out until right before the season starts. Same thing with games. If you are a family with a ton of other activities and a tightly controlled schedule, this will drive you crazy and/or be a total waste of your money. 

Coaching of rec teams is all done by parent volunteers. So I have seen some really accomplished/wonderful coaches and some who are really just kid-minders. It really varies widely. Both Montclair and EBU offer clinics and the like for parent volunteer coaches who want to get better at coaching. And back when I coached for Montclair, they actually sent professional coaches around to rec teams' practices to help out. (So maybe 3 out of 10 practices a season, you'd have a pro coach there helping out, teaching new skills, etc.) That was really nice. (Also like 5 years ago, so I'm not sure they still do that.) 

Honestly, I'd make your choice based on which club other kids at your son's school play with. It will make all your lives easier in the long run. Good luck with whatever you decide!

We have 10 years' experience with East Bay United (starting from back when it was called Rockridge Soccer). At 8 years old, the coaches are usually parents, and are sometimes parents of your own child's classmates. Overall, it's been great for all of my children. We often play Montclair clubs so obviously the fields are shared. We play all over Oakland, Alameda, and occasionally Berkeley. Practices are usually once a week and will depend on what the coach requests. Our team are classmates from a north Oakland school, so we practice at a north Oakland field. You should find out if your son's classmates are on a team and then try to join that team. Hope this helps!

Ask about where their friends play.  If you are looking for “organized playdate” sports, you want to keep it FUN.  Montclair does FANTASTIC rec soccer, and that would be my recommendation.  Look at the websites, and see where the teams practice.  That will make a difference- carpooling may be key.

Agreed with the recommendations to do whichever friends play in, since that (and carpools!) are important. That said, we were very underwhelmed by Montclair U8 rec soccer. The coach was committed but very unsupported, and the whole league felt somewhat disorganized. There was definitely no professional coaching support for the rec teams last fall, at least at the U8 level. I am sure that the experience is somewhat coach-dependent, but we honestly felt our child got more out of Soccer Shots. I appreciate that it is volunteer-run, but so is NOLL/SOLL, which was a dramatically different experience at similar levels. I have heard that Montclair gets more structured at the competitive levels, so maybe it's better then, but we are going to try another league for rec soccer next fall.