Soccer for School-Aged Kids

Parent Q&A

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  • Summer Weekend Soccer for 7-year-old?

    (2 replies)

    We're looking for weekend soccer classes for our 7-year-old daughter this summer. All of the soccer clubs seem to be offering full-day camps though. Any advice?

    The City of Berkeley is offering Saturday soccer classes through Rebound Basketball Academy. Sign ups are online through the city’s recreation department. 

    Sorry—I just posted about the City of Berkeley Saturday classes and accidentally wrote about the basketball classes, but there are soccer ones too! Clearly I need a nap…

  • Hi Parents, 

    my boy has never really liked sport but has recently expressed an interest in Soccer. Does anyone have any recommendations for places for him to start to play soccer (ideally something fun and non competitive)? He hasn't played before. Also, I realize that choices are more limited with COVID. Any recommendations would be most welcome. Thanks so much. 

    My nine year old really enjoys soccer2gether, which meets in Berkeley. Emphasis is on teamwork and having fun. 

    I recommend Soccer2Gether... Nitzan is a gentle soul, the perfect coach for beginners on up. 

  • Soccer in Berkeley/Albany for 3 & 6 yo

    (3 replies)


    We’re looking for youth soccer recommendations for our 3 years old son and 6 year old daughter. We previously did a soccer class through the city of Berkeley but were not impressed. Hard to learn to kick a soccer ball on a Grassy hill full of divots.



    My husband signed up my 9 and 6 year old boys for Soccer 2gether. They will start on Monday at 4:30 pm at Longfellow middle school field.

    You can see if Maverick or Spurs have classes for that age

    My daughter did Soccer2gether with Coach Nitzan several years ago. She didn’t really take to soccer (not because of the class at all) but Coach Nitzan was so great with the kids. He made it really fun and accessible and I plan to start his class with my littler  one soon. 

  • Hello everyone,

    We are moving to El Cerrito from the Midwest this summer, and have a 10 year old who is part of a competitive soccer team in our home state.  There seems to be multiple different teams in the area that he can join--specifically we are looking at Mersey, Spurs FC and ABSC.  He is very interested in playing goalie and would love to get specific goalie training.  He enjoys being in a competitive environment but doesn't get overly intense. We have looked at the different websites and emailed the various contacts, but would love to get a parent's viewpoint regarding the different teams. Many of the reviews on BPN are from several years ago. Since we are new in the area, we are hoping to get to meet other (diverse/open-minded/global citizen-type) people, and we are hoping this may be a way to do so. Any insight as to how inclusive these teams' environments are for children and parents would be great as well!

    Many thanks.

    We had a terrible experience with the Spurs in 2016, about 2.5 years ago. The recreational U8 team was super-competitive, with kids yelling at each other on the field about missed plays, and the coach did nothing; other parents did nothing; the league did nothing to teach/encourage sportsmanship. I had to pull my kid out because he was crying after every game from getting verbally harassed by his "teammates". I hate to think what competitive Spurs teams are like. In terms of diversity, in the practices where there's multiple teams on the field (Gilman Fields, huge complex) at once, I observed that the Spurs are predominantly white, with Asian maybe the next most populous group. El Cerrito itself is a pretty diverse city (having lived here for 9 years) and my kids go to the most diverse elementary school in West Contra Costa, which is located in El Cerrito (Fairmont), so I find it telling that the Spurs organization does not reflect the community. During these practices, I also observed a lot of coaches speaking to their young players in ways I would not have liked my children to be spoken to. Our problem with the coach my son had was almost the opposite.... he never provided any guidance or direction, assumed everyone knew how to play well already - again, in U8 rec. Wouldn't recommend Spurs.

    We were  on Mersey many years ago --  Coach Bill O'Donnell is from Mersey area in England.  At the time a little bit of a Euro vibe to it.  So that's my 2 cents but this about 7 years ago.

    I can honestly say I don't know who the poster below is referring to with respect to Spurs coaches. I don't deny their experiences...but I do not share them. We have been with Spurs since our child started in their Lil Spurs program at 2.5 years old. We have had nothing but healthy, positive, fun, enriching experiences with the club. Honestly. 

    In a more general sense, ABSC is known in the area for being the more "rec"-oriented league, and the least organized. That's not a bash because they do what they do and it provides a great service but they are not the "comp" club of choice. 

    Mersey is small and their level of play frankly doesn't hold up with clubs like Spurs as the kids get older.

    Bay Oaks / East Bay United is another good comp program to consider. They're in Alameda so it's a bit more of a hike, but they are sound. 

    But there's nothing the matter with Spurs for a solid comp experience. 


    Tryouts for competitive teams have all happened and parents are paying reg fees now, so you may be challenged to find the 'best' team for Fall 2019 at this point. We've had a good experience w/ Bay Oaks (and EBU rec) for the last 5 years (my son is 05) and I know they offer specific Goalie support/training. In general, I think you'll find more 'open-mindedness/good sportsmanship' in a club that supports 'diversity' and that's what East Bay United (EBU) and Bay Oaks can offer consistently. Otherwise it's a crap shoot from year to year with new teammates/parents/coaches. Good luck!

    ABSC is extremely disorganized and the people that run the organization are often unprofessional. My kids were in rec teams for a few years and it was fine but once they progressed to competitive it wasn't a good experience. I'd suggest checking out other comp programs in the area. I believe that the Spurs or Mersey offer specialized goalie training weekly which ABSC doesn't.

    We have three kids who play on Spurs comp teams. The coaches are the best part of Spurs. The Club has undergone huge changes over the past year to be more communicative and inclusive and our experience has been great. 

    Avoid ABSC. The club is very disorganized and you will have no idea what your schedule or team will be until literally the last minute. Also, you may get hit with surprise additional fees if your team has no coach (which is possible because the club is so disorganized). 

  • Our daughter has been playing competitive soccer for two years but is considering going back to rec to make time for other activities and interests so we are hoping to find a team looking for another player.  She really enjoys soccer, has decent skills, is a good teammate, is comfortable mixing with new people and is not super-competitive.  We live on the border of north Oakland and south Berkeley and are willing to drive up to 30 minutes to practice.  Please feel free to reply to me directly if you know of a team that could be a good match.  We are reluctant to have a club just place her on a team that we don't know anything about beforehand because it's resulted in her getting placed on teams that were already having survival issues in the past.  (Before she joined a competitive team she played on three different rec teams, all of which have disbanded.)  If we aren't able to find a specific rec team to join she will likely just stay on her current team.  Thanks in advance for any leads!

    I would contact the age group registrar for the league you are interested in.  I'm guessing Jack London?  There were always teams needing players, but I really doubt your daughter would happy playing in a lower flight, so I would go gently, hat-in-hand to the person who could find a good spot.  Keep in mind that being one of those registrars is a thankless job.  Worthwhile, and I don't regret my stint, but there are times I would have given my eye teeth for a parent who understood that I was not God. 

    It's been years since I was involved in one of the local leagues, but what I recommended in a public reply [which can take weeks to appear] is that you contact the age group registrar directly in your league directly.  She'll want/need to be flighted properly, and the registrar is the person with information about vacancies and past team performance, etc.  But be really nice.  It's a demanding volunteer job.  I would go out of my way to help nice parents.  Hope you find a good fit. 

  • Recreational Soccer League for 8 year old

    (4 replies)

    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! 

    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.

  • Soccer skills for 7 year old

    (0 replies)

    I’d love some recommendations for my 7 year old son who plays soccer in a recreational league during the year, and has a lot of enthusiasm for the sport, but could do with some skills coaching. We tried British Soccer Summer Challenger Camp and visited the Skills Institute at the Bladium, but he said while both programs were fun, he didn’t learn much. Where do semi-beginners go for some serious coaching? Ideally we’d like to stick to Alameda where we live, but open to East Bay for camps, classes, etc. Thank you!

    No responses received.

  • My daughter's team desperately needs referees to affiliate with her team.  My understanding is that teams usually fulfill this requirement by recruiting teenaged siblings or soccer-oriented parents to ref for the team but her team doesn't have any eligible candidates.  We considering offering a bonus for any ref willing to affiliate with us, in an amount that should cover the licensing/uniform costs for a beginning ref (her league will also reimburse the cost of a uniform after 5 games), although experienced refs would also eligible for the bonus.  Any idea how best to get the word out, or otherwise find people who would be open to affiliating with us?  I am new to youth soccer but hear this issue has been a problem for years -- I'd love advice from anyone who has been through this before.

    The best thing to do is speak to the referees at your child's first game -- ask them if they are already affiliated.  If not, sign them up.  (It is best to do this after your child's match is finished). Make sure, though, that they know which league they are obligating themselves to ref five games for.  (They will, of course, be paid by the league for those games, but youth refs are often very pleased by this bonus.  When I was coaching I think we paid $100, but we probably could have offered $50 and it would have been enough.)

  • soccer for 6 y o

    (1 reply)

    Hi, does anyone have any recommendations for a soccer league that is fun, skill-based and isn't too competitive for a 6.5 y o boy who has very little experience and needs to build up skills in soccer? A great, involved coach who really knows what he (would prefer a male coach for our boy at this age) is doing would be a plus! We live in Berkeley and would prefer something that is the late afternoons not only weekends. Thanks so much!

    Check out East Bay United Soccer Club. They have groups for every level and they are during the week in the afternoon. Their next session starts in 2 weeks. My 5 1/2 year old son loves his coaches. It's non competitive and skills based.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Frustrated volunteer coach on daughter's soccer team

Sept 2015

My daughter plays soccer with Montclair Soccer Club, in one of the younger recreational divisions. I'm coaching the team. We mostly like the league, but the league's overall failures to communicate are making me lose my freakin' mind. Examples: we didn't get our game schedules until a few days before the first game. I didn't get a coaches' manual - or any guidance on how the league might expect me to coach - until after I'd held my first practice, and even then, some of the info in the manual has turned out to be incorrect. There is/was total confusion about how game monitors/referees work. I have wound up working out a volunteer system with various parents on my team, but I got no guidance on this from the league, written or otherwise. I was told I would have at least one assistant coach. I didn't get one and have had to sort that one out myself. Even little things like... parking info is wrong. Or we were told we absolutely had to turn in date-of-birth verification by a certain date. Our team rep forgot to turn our paperwork in. No one cared or followed up on it at all. We're four weeks in, and at every turn, there is some new thing I didn't know and wish someone would have told me sooner. Or there is some piece of information that turns out to be incomplete or totally incorrect.

All of this adds up to me wondering if we should look elsewhere next season. Some of my daughter's classmates play with East Bay United, and if you compare the two leagues' websites, they appear virtually identical - similar cost to participate, similar reliance on parent volunteers in the rec leagues, both work with Positive Coaching Alliance, etc. Have any of you BPN'ers had experience with both leagues, either as a volunteer coach or just as a parent? Is Montclair soccer club particularly poorly organized, or is this just the deal when you are talking about volunteer-run, recreational soccer? (i.e., if we switch to EB United, will it just be more of the same?) Any insight you can provide would be hugely appreciated. already discouraged

As to game schedules immediately preceding the season...having played 3 sports over many years, this is common. I think it is hard to get permits for the fields, and you may not have a permit in hand or know the times you have it until shortly before the season. Then to schedule in dozens of teams, make sure there are no double assignments to a field (2 games on the same field at the same time), etc.

The other thing I would say, different clubs will have different fields they practice and play at, and Montclair used to be mostly in Montclair for practices. Though it is in the same league as EBU so they would have the same or similar fields for games, to the best of my knowledge.

As a club sport volunteer (not soccer), coaching is a great way to volunteer, but it is not the most difficult and time consuming way to volunteer. Most coaches appreciate that. anon

That sounds extremely disorganized. I'm guessing your daughter is at a young enough level that you didn't need a license. Get one anyway the next time classes are offered by the league. There should be coaching tips on the league website. Was there not a preseason coaches' meeting? There always was in the Rockridge Club (which merged with I forget who to become East Bay United). I can't speak to EBU since my coaching days are long past but I can sympathize with your problems. Recruiting referees is one of the hardest tasks every year. You also need a team manager if you don't have one. Being a coach is hard enough without trying to handle all the other details. The late schedules is not the club's fault unless your games are totally within the club. It's not unusual for teams to be put together at the last minute and late schedules are a consequences of that. Hang in there! It's rewarding. AboutTheSame

Soccer for 6 year old, mellow class?

Aug 2015

I'm looking for a weekly soccer class for my 6 year old (rising 1st grader). She has never played but has been enjoying watching women's soccer lately and wants to play. She is energetic but clumsy and can get discouraged as sports don't come naturally to her, so a friendly, non-competitive, warm atmosphere would be nice. The Bladium in Alameda is a possibility but super far from us (in the Laurel district, east Oakland). I glanced at the Oakland Soccer Club's website and was completely overwhelmed. It sounded way too serious. Any recommendations for something that is mellow and not too far away from us? Not Mia Hamm's Mom

Hi! You might get responses from other parents who might suggest this, but just in case I wanted to let you know that I think you should check out Soccer Shots - They do programs all over the bay area, both at parks and at school sites, so I'm guessing that you could hopefully find something close to you. My son has done soccer with them off and on for almost 3 years, starting from when he was in preschool. He is 5 now, almost 6 (September b-day), and he absolutely loves his soccer classes. Based on your description of your daughter, I think their style might be a good fit. Their approach is non-competitive, inclusive and fun. I would describe the coaching style as laid back with an emphasis on learning good sportsmanship and teamwork both on and off the field, but in a totally age-appropriate way. It's pretty awesome. My son is currently doing the 9:50 am class at Cordornices Park in Berkeley, with the same coach he used to have at his preschool (he went to Oakland Garden School in the Laurel District).  Good luck! Sara

None of the local soccer teams meet our criteria

June 2015

My kids (now 5&7) have tried 4 of the local soccer programs, and none of them meet all our criteria: keep the kids moving the entire class, non-competitive or at least not TOO competitive (ie., no parents coaching from the sidelines like in ABSC - U5s, no less!), coaches who bother to learn the kids' names, and both kids in class together, either in the same section or concurrently at the same field, or at least consecutive (one at 4, say, and one at 5). The best soccer experience we've had has been with Soccer Shots (which I highly recommend for preschoolers!), which unfortunately doesn't offer classes to 7+ age range. Despite many subpar coaches and experiences, my kids STILL say they like soccer and want to play, but I just don't know what programs - between Berkeley & Hercules - to try next. Any suggestions??

While it is possible that the soccer program of your dreams does not exist, I will suggest that some of your criteria may be better met by a soccer summer camp as opposed to club soccer. My son attended a week of Footfire Soccer camp in Berkeley, where he thoroughly enjoyed his experience.

Suggestion - reflect/examine your criteria and assumptions. I don't mean this judgmentally, but rather as a parent of late teens who went through many sports and other activities over the years. This is the beginning in many ways of your engagement with your community and your kids' experiences for years to come. We still hang out with or at least run into many kids/adults my children were on teams with 15+ years ago. I'm so glad that as challenges came up, most of us chose to assume good intent and work through the issues.

Moving from one program to another won't fix your issue I'm guessing. When little, there's a sense that we are ''buying'' experiences, a.k.a. art class, gymnastics, etc. We want them at the time that works for us, with the best possible teachers money can buy, and guarantees that our kids are well served.

Community sports leagues are not, in my opinion, an outsourced activity - they are almost always run by volunteers (parents) with incredible devotion, patience and yes, their own bias' and agendas at times. The 'subpar' coaches are parents who give their time for your kid. Yes, some are better than others. These parents spend their own money on equipment, snacks, batting practice, etc. When we do, we are investing in our community. Some leagues are organized more fairly than others. Get involved, look beyond your own kids' experiences and have fun. It might be soccer this year, softball/baseball next, who knows? takes a village

I was going to stay out of this one, since it has been many years since I was a [rather mediocre but (I hope) fun] soccer coach, but you did not get many responses, so I will offer my views.

The coaches are almost all volunteers. I spent many (unpaid) hours trying to figure out how to motivate kids who were not great athletes or all that interested without turning them off entirely (not to mention the out-of-pocket money when our team needs exceeded the club budget). If you don't like the coaching your kids are getting, VOLUNTEER yourself. (Sorry for shouting.) You might get some awareness of how hard it is. (This should not come across as lack of appreciation for the great parents of the Flying Dolphins/Sirens -- you know how supportive you were and how much we coaches valued it.)  That said, I have seen some bad coaching. I have seen adult coaches yelling at young kids in a way that made me cringe. In my day, the Rockridge Soccer Club (which I guess is now part of East Bay United) was VERY involved in the fair play model espoused by Phil Jackson and others. I cannot speak for their current philosophy, but you might look into that club. Good luck. AboutTheSame

Moving to the East Bay - too late to sign up for soccer?

May 2015

Hello, We may be moving to Berkeley/Oakland this summer from SF, and I was wondering if we missed sign ups for Fall soccer for my rising 3rd Grader and Kindergartner? The sign-ups passed already in the city, and I'm worried I missed the deadlines in the East Bay as well. We are waiting to hear from the school that my daughter is waitlisted at, if she gets in then we will likely move, but until then, everything is in a holding pattern. However, knowing how soccer signups happen so early, I wanted to see what my options are. If they missed the sign up for the soccer clubs, are there other options (e.g. the Y, etc), and what are those deadlines? Thanks so much for any advice. Diana

Guaranteed registration closes May 31 or June 10 -- depending on the league and club. Late registration goes on a wait list. Berkeley-Albany appears to be May 31. East Bay United in the Jack London league (which I would recommend) is June 10.


Hi Diana. You're in luck. Registration for the East Bay United Soccer Club (which is the recreational side of our local club; the other half is called Bay Oaks) is open until June 10th. This is a fabulous club -- both my daughters played rec soccer (one is just stopping after nine years, the other moved after a few years to the competitive side). Here is how to register your children: go to under ''Find Your League'' type EBUSC scroll about half way down the page and you'll find the ''Fall 2015 Recreational...'' age/gender groups. click on the appropriate age/gender group (or on ''Register Now!'') and follow the directions from there. I'm one of the EBUSC coordinators (I assign kids -- in an older age group than yours -- to teams). Laurel

We're an ABSC family (Albany Berkeley Soccer Club) since age 5. Fall signup deadline for ABSC is May 31. Some of the soccer opportunities if you live in or near Berkeley are: Albany-Berkeley Soccer: Mersey: East Bay United: El Cerrito Futbol Club: Also check out the Berkeley YMCA, UC Village Rec Program, Berkeley Parks & Rec, Soccer Shots, & Footfire.

Recreational Soccer for First Grader in El Cerrito

July 2014

I have a 5 yo rising first grader, who played U5 in ABSC last year. If we were to do ABSC U6 this year, the financial commitment almost triples (plus a volunteer commitment, ugh), and he's not *that* into soccer (although the World Cup afterglow seems to be real!), so I'm thinking about the Spurs or El Cerrito Futbol, or something else...? I can't really tell the difference online in the ''feel'' of the programs. We live in El Cerrito, and I would really prefer no more than one meeting/class/game per week. I am also VERY anti-competitive parents, of whom there were even a few in the ABSC U5s, and I never saw a coach say anything to them. Can anyone out there give me the scoop overall? (seems like ABSC had some politics happening over the past year, which I don't care about as long as it doesn't affect the kids) How to figure out where we want to make our family sports commitment? (assuming we stick w/soccer as the sport) - also have a toddler coming up. Thanks! Confused Sorta-Soccer Mom

I'd like to recommend Nitzan's soccer program in Berkeley, soccer2gether. Nitzan is great with the kids and his program is low key (once a week) and affordable. Check out his website: Berkeley Mom

Hello, El Cerrito Futbal club is now called Spurs. There is a recreational option within the club. When playing recreational soccer, my son had a practice once a week, and a game almost every weekend during the season. He now plays competitive soccer, therefore an increase in the amount of commitment, practice meets, games and tournaments. Spurs El Cerrito encourages skill development, rather than focusing on purely winning. Volunteering is an expected part of many youth sport programs. Spurs requests 4 hours per season or you can opt out by paying more. The jobs/responsibilities are fairly easy - no big deal. As you live in El Cerrito, I would recommend Spurs - it is a great way to make connections within your community. Soccer mom

Albany Berkeley Soccer Club or El Cerrito Futbol?

April 2014

Hello, I'm trying to decide whether to enroll my son in the Albany Berkeley Soccer Club (ABSC) or El Cerrito Futbol Club (ECFC) next fall. He will be playing in the Under 7 division. He played with ABSC in Under 5 but had to sit out Under 6 due to injury. I was very impressed with ABSC before. The website is understandable, the program was well organized and the coaches were great. I had considered signing him up for ECFC but found the website to be very difficult to navigate and couldn't find the information that I wanted.

I'd like to give ECFC a try because we live in EC and my son plays baseball with the El Cerrito Youth Baseball program. We have met a lot of wonderful people through ECYB and he is having a great time. But I'm wondering about the program. I've heard that there aren't many teams and games are really just scrimages within teams instead of against other teams. ABSC has a lot of teams and the game schedule was full for Under 6.

Can anyone provide any insight into the ECFC program? Will there actually be games for the U7 division next fall? When does registration happen? Torn

Our family has done both ABSC and ECFC, and my advice is: I'd stick with ABSC. El Cerrito Futbol Club has some great people associated with it, but unfortunately it's a vanity project for a couple of people involved,  so as an organization it's dysfunctional. That doesn't matter so much at U7, of course, but as the years go on it matters more and more. ABSC also has more fields, so there's less stress on each team finding a time and place for practice. Star teams at ECFC have good fields for practice, but outside of those teams, things can be chaotic. EC soccer dad

My 3 kids have all been involved in ECFC at different times over the last 7 years. There were plenty of kids playing for ECFC and we found the league, at least on the boys side U8 and up to be quite competitive. They played games against ECFC, ABS, San Pablo and Mersey (a private league). My daughter, our remaining ECFC'er, has played U6 and U7 the past 2 Fall seasons. She had games every Saturday against ABS, plus 2 practices/wk. The atmosphere has been more low-key for her, but that might change next year. The ECFC Spring Rec. season is different as there are fewer players on the Rec. side, we only did one Rec. season due to baseball and softball. anon

Private Soccer Coaching for 9-year-old girl

Nov 2013

Hi all- I am looking for a rec for a soccer coach for a 9 year old girl. I would prefer a female and was thinking of a high school or college aged kid who my daughter could really feel comfortable with. She is playing competitive soccer and loves it, but really needs to work on her assertiveness on the field. Has anyone done anything like this and have any recs? We would like to start soon. Thanks Soccer Mom

Check out the professional coaches at the Montclair Soccer Club. trainer-and-coach-bios/ They have several young woman coaches that are wonderful. I believe Some are high school or college students. You can contact them or get more information from the Director of Coaching at DOC [at] Soccer mom

Non Team Soccer for a 1st Grade Girl?

Aug 2013

Our family just moved from New York to Berkeley a couple of weeks ago. Our daughter (Age 6, about to enter 1st grade) is very interested in learning to play soccer. I was wondering if anyone could recommend a place or organization where she could take soccer lessons? She's not super sporty, so we love that she's excited to play a sport, but we don't want her to join a team where she would have to practice several times a week and play games every weekend. Does anybody have any ideas? Torrie

Most cities have a recreation soccer league that practices once or twice a week and is pretty low key, especially for 6 year olds. Your daughter would be on a team with lots of kids who haven't played before. Also, some parks and rec departments have ''intro to soccer'' kinds of camps and classes. My daughter did this in the park by our house in kindergarten. We aren't in Berkeley, so I can't direct you to specific resources, but I'd start by looking at the city's parks and rec dept. website or catalog. The more intense soccer leagues aren't generally available to kids until they are in 4th grade or so.

Soccer for 6 yr old girl without weekends

March 2013

I have a 6-yr old girl and we live in El Cerrito. She would like to play soccer but we cannot commit to weekend games. Does anyone know of any option out there for us?

Our Jack London girls soccer team had two players who could not play on Saturday for religious reasons. They came to practice and were full participants in the team. I assume El Cerrito would make any accommodation for your daughter. At 6 years old, the more important part is that your family can help the team in some (small) way - arrange snacks, organize emails etc (it can be anything). BTW, the El Cerrito soccer program has a good reputation for inclusiveness and quality. Anon

Soccer for 8-year-old fanatic

Jan 2013

My 8-year-old son is crazy about soccer and wants to play it every day. He is on an ABSC team which he loves. But he is ready for more time on the field and more serious skills training. He wants to stay on his ABSC team but I'm looking for options that can allow him to play more often. I don't see any recent reviews of East Bay United on the website and I'd love some feedback from parents whose kids are on the U9 or U10 competitive teams there. Has it been a good and positive experience? What is the quality of coaching? What's the time commitment like? Is it a supportive, encouraging environment or is it super competitive? What other options are out there, such as EBU skills clinics, to give him some more specialized training? We are in Berkeley and would prefer not having to drive too far. Thanks! soccer mama

You might consider getting him an hour of individual coaching per week. I saw this guy (below) on craigslist under LESSONS. I know nothing about him or if he's any good, but it might give you some idea of what's out there. I saw another guy advertising for $60 an hour out in the Danville area. Not as fun as playing soccer with other kids his age, but he could pick up some skills quickly. Anyway, just a thought. ''Individual training of 1 to 2 hour sessions: Sliding scale $30-$50 per hour. Team or Group Sessions: $6 - $10 per hour per player. Feel free to contact me, Ernie Biera for an appointment or other info 707-363-7739'' Sean

We switched to EBU from a different club last year. I have total confidence in the coaching staff, the director of coaching and the overall vision of EBU. The skills training programs are wonderful. The summer camps are fabulous (not too expensive if you do the second week for free offer). Tryouts are THIS WEEKEND for the younger age groups so I hope your son has a chance to do them! mother of a fanatic too

2010 - 2012 Recommendations

Soccer for 9 year old boy?

Dec 2012

My son is crazy about soccer, but has only played it at school recess, with a few fun summer camps thrown in here and there. I'm happy to sign him up for a team or program, but loathe to join an uber-competitive group that takes over our lives and turns me into a glorified chauffeur. Any suggestions for a group or team that focuses on building skills, learning how to work with teammates and just plain having fun? Any chance such a team might be playing in the next few months, or do I have to wait until summer or fall? Thanks! Soccer-averse mom

there are lots of options for soccer. most of the teams in this area are sponsored by Jack London Youth Soccer League at They host Alameda Soccer Club, East Bay United Soccer Club, Grass Valley Soccer Club, Montclair Soccer Club, Oakland Soccer Club, and Piedmont Soccer Club. You don't have to live in a specific area to join that team. Look on the site for tryouts; they start tryouts in January and practices are usually start in March.

Your son will be put on team appropiate to his skills. Rec teams usually practice once a week and play once or twice a weekend, division teams usually practice twice a week and play once or twice a weekend. If your son is good enough he will not be happy playing on a rec team even if you are happier with less driving. Usually you can find carpools to help out with games and practices. Good luck and have fun Harry

Albany Berkeley Soccer Club ( is the large local soccer club. We have over a dozen teams at your son's age group. The emphasis is on having fun while learning to play the game. Consider signing up with a couple of friends and/or ask the registrars if they can connect you with folks from your school. Registration opens up in January for March/April season start. Organized soccer is played spring and fall with individual teams sometimes having activities (usually low-key) off-season for those that want to. At your son's age you have to really want to find ''higher intensity'' programs - just join in the fun. Dan, President ABSC Soccer

You don't say what city you're in, but I would put your son in a spring break or summer soccer camp. These range widely from summer rec programs (through your city), camps at local colleges (Cal, St. Mary's), and pre try-out clinics run by local competitive clubs.

I would just ask around his school and see what the other kids in his grade are doing. Sign ups for fall rec soccer in our area (LMYA--Lafayette Moraga Youth Assoc.) happen in May. Tryouts for clubs in our area (Eclipse, Lamorinda, Heritage, Walnut Creek soccer clubs) start as early as February. (They practice and play tournaments during the summer, and move into competition in the fall.)

If your son has never played competitive soccer, I would just start with a summer camp and sign him up for your local rec team for fall play. Rec teams usually practice once a week and play their weekend games locally.

Soccer goalie ''tutoring'' for 9yo girl

Sepr 2012

Hi, Our 9 year old daughter has taken a great interest in playing goalie. She's doing pretty well, but could really use some fine tuning. Are there any recommendations of someone that you really felt like is a good tutor, so to speak, for honing in on good skills and good drills with her? soccer mama

I know Montclair Soccer has a weekly goalie training on Mondays at 5pm at Merritt college. I hope it helps. Good luck, Lan Lan

Where can 11-year olds play soccer in Berkeley?

Nov 2011

Dear Community, We are moving to Berkeley in January 2012. My 11-year-old son is an avid soccer player who currently plays in a travel team in Virginia. I know tryouts are typically in the summer, but it would make his transition to California a lot easier if we could find a team with which he could play and train in Berkeley. Any suggestions? Where would I find out about existing teams and how to link up with them? Thanks! Peter

Mavericks and Bay Oaks are two local Class I teams. Tryouts are in March, but check the websites to verify exact dates for each age group. Club soccer usually does not run during the regular high school season (now), but younger teams will play in winter indoor leagues. --former soccer mom

Tryouts for competitive teams are in the Winter. The two big soccer clubs are Albany Berkeley Soccer club and East Bay United / is also a smaller club in Berkeley called Mersey Soccer :// Many kids also play indoor soccer at Bladium during the Winter. soccer mom

Soccer for 6yo not into team sports

Aug 2010

I have a 6 year old boy who is not at all interested in team sports like soccer or t-ball, but that may be because he thinks it will be too hard for him, or because he's never really done it much before. It seems like most of the boys in his kindergarten class last year were involved in both of these sports, and I worry that he will not fit in, or that he will not have the skills needed to be part of the sports later on if he chooses. So I'm wondering if I should push him to sign up for at least one of these, just to give it a try, or if I should not worry about it and let him decide when to play. He has tried gymnastics, but was not too interested in that. The martial arts are another possibility, and we haven't tried that yet. Mostly he just wants to play his own games! So if anyone has any ideas about a program that might work for a boy like this, please let me know. Thank You

Sounds like Sunday Soccer and Baseball ( might be what you are looking for. It's 90 minutes (or a bit less for the younger kids) of soccer or baseball (depending on which one you do). No league or team jersey required. The first half is usually working on technique. During the second half they split them into two teams (trying to make them as equal as possible) who play against each other. If you have gear like gloves or cleats, bring them, but otherwise have your kids just wear comfy clothes and sneakers. The coaches are really great and knot how to motivate kids. Our son enjoyed it for some time and is now at age 8 (almost 9) 'graduating' to a soccer league. Sunday Soccer mom

Girl's soccer in Moraga

May 2010

We have a soon to be 6-year-old daughter who is interested in playing soccer. We live in Oakland now but are moving to Moraga soon, and are wondering if anyone knows where my daughter could play. She's never played soccer, so we are looking for a place where she can get started. I prefer slow-paced and not very competitive environment. Any pointer is appreciated. a future soccer mom

Check out LMYA soccer... Many of the kids in the Lamorinda area participate in this organization..They do basketball/baseball etc also lisa

Pretty much everyone under 10 plays soccer through LMYA (Lafayette Moraga Youth Association). As the kids get older, some stay with LMYA and some move on to club soccer teams. My daughter has played LMYA soccer for 5 years now, starting when we moved to Moraga (also from Oakland) when she was 6. It is pretty mellow, but of course there are the occasional uptight parents and coaches. Your daughter will most likely be grouped with some girls from her school.

I think the deadline for registration is May 31, but I know for a fact we enrolled our daughter in June when we first moved here, so just contact the league and try to get her on a team ASAP. You might have to pay a late registration fee. The league website is The website's contact page has phone numbers and email addresses if you want to talk to someone about late registration.

Co-od soccer for 5yo with more girls

May 2010

My energetic, fun-loving girl really enjoys playing soccer and is now in her second season in Albany/Berkeley Soccer Club. It has been a pretty good experience. However, my daughter is only one of about 4 girls in a group of many, many more boys. Frequently she is the only girl on her team for the day. I am all for co-ed sports and in general think that at this age it is totally appropriate. However, each week I am watching her grow more passive and seem less excited about playing. She has complained that the boys are 'faster' and 'push alot' and she is developing a hang back and watch the action attitude about it all. During the 'game' time she doesn't seem to be having that much fun. During 'drills' she is much happier. She really wants to be on a 'team' and play with other kids - but this environment is not building her confidence. I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions for any girls only soccer experiences for this age group? a one week camp or something would be great. She really likes to play and I want to help her be in an environment where her confidence is nurtured and she has alot of fun. thanks! mom of a soccer girl

personally not a big fan of coed sports even at an early age, and i think you're seeing why. we started with the albany/berkeley club ourselves and moved to rockridge [jack london league] in 1st grade. check them out. i think you might be happier with their approach.

Soccer Play (scrimmage?) for 9- and 10-year old

April 2010

I am looking for a place/an opportunity for our two oldest kids (girl, 9 and boy, 10) to play soccer. We are Swiss and will only stay in the Bay Area until the end of April. In Switzerland both of them play in a team and they would like to practice a little bit (preferably weekdays in the afternoon), either some sort of class or scrimmage. Any idea would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Albany Berkeley soccer club does Tues/Thurs scrimmages: soccer mom

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Soccer Introduction for 8 year old

Nov 2009

Can anyone recommend a soccer class or group where my 8 year old daughter can learn how to play soccer? She is not very athletic and this is the first time she's expressed interest in any sport. She really needs a class with other beginners or she probably won't participate. I'm also hoping to find a class that is more fun than competitive, at least while she's learning. Any ideas? Thanks!

The Berkeley YMCA is having a Futsal class this winter. It is indoor soccer for ages 7-11 and begins the 30th of January. It is a quick moving game, however for those that do not know how to play or are trying to understand the game or keeping in shape for the spring season, this is a good way to do all the above. For more information, please feel free to contact me. Sarah

Soccer league w/Positive Coaching?

Nov 2009

I'm interested in finding a soccer league for my just 6 year olds boys to play in that uses Positive Coaching, or something like that--where parents are encouraged to be supportive but not coach from the sidelines. My kids have been doing a soccer clinic for 4 and 5 year olds for two years and they're ready for a team. But I've seen a couple games of different Albany/Berkeley/El Cerrito leagues and there are some really passionate parents of 7 year olds who seemed really invested in the outcome of the game. In a couple of games I couldn't tell who was the actual coach.

On a related note, it seems there are more options for girls to do recreational soccer longer; the boys teams become a competitive league at an earlier age.

As we look to Spring soccer and joining a team, I want to choose a league where a) there are clear expectations of parents on the sidelines and b) there are recreational options as the kids age in case the competitive teams aren't the best fit for my boys or our family.

I know there are lots of soccer families out there and I would appreciate hearing any reflections, clarifications and how folks have navigated these waters. Thanks, Rachel

Good luck finding something that meets your needs!! As a soccer mom and referee, I find it to be very ugly out there. My daughter plays competitive soccer but I almost always referee the recreational leagues for 9 year-olds, so I see the whole gamut.

If my daughter didn't love the sport so much and if she didn't personally have such a fabulous coach who is all about sportsmanship she'd be out of the sport. So with all that being said, you won't be able to get away from it regardless of what club or league you join. With luck, you can find a great coach and a group of families with similar values for your kid. But you'll always have to deal with the families from the opposing team and unfortunately you can't control them. As a referee, I find it hard to control them sometimes.

The Jack London Youth Soccer League which encompasses, Rockridge, Montclair, Grass Valley, Piedmont and Alameda does participate in the Positive Coaching Alliance. I beleive that all new families must participate in a PCA meeting. In my opinion that should be repeated every year! Eva

As a Rockridge coach, I know that the Rockridge Soccer League requires a parent of every player to attend a Positive Coaching Alliance meeting and there is quite a bit of emphasis from the league's administration on the PCA philosophy. That being said, I still see some pretty terrible parents out there, and in the end it's almost always up to the coach to make sure the parents are behaving themselves. Some coaches are more assertive with their parents than others. On the team I coached we had some problems with a particular set of parents who just wouldn't shut up despite being told many times they couldn't coach their child. But overall I have to say the Rockridge parents are very very well behaved compared to some other leagues I've seen.

As for rec vs. competitive, Rockridge has rec teams for both boys and girls that go up to at least U14 or U15. There is a high drop out rate from rec soccer around that age group for both boys and girls, and so the kids that keep playing much beyond that age do tend to be on either the class 3 or class 1 select teams. Rockridge soccer coach and parent

Class 1 or Class 3 Soccer?

Nov 2009

Can anyone tell me what playing for Bay Oaks soccer is like? I have a U9 player. I don't want him to lose his joy in soccer if it is too grueling or competitive among the team members. The training seems great, but I want to be realistic about my own limits--is it all weekend, every weekend? I am wondering if we are better off only trying out for Class 3 soccer. (Sting in Rockridge, in our case, any comments about Sting are also appreciated). Thank you! anon

Hi - I have 2 kids who play for Bay Oaks now after playing rec soccer. My kids LOVE to play soccer and that love has been increased by playing at the higher level and with trained coaches with lots of coaching experience. I have found that for kids that are very skilled, playing at the higher level is more satisfying for them because they get better faster, they're playing with more skilled kids and they're playing against other really skilled kids.

In terms of the practice time commitment, from what I know from all my friends with kids in the class III programs is that it's exactly the same. In Bay Oaks our kids have 2 practices per week (U9 and U11) which is the same as the Sting teams. I'm less sure about the number of games/weekend average for Sting, but for BO we usually play 1 or 2 games per weekend (pretty evenly split). The difference is that the 'away' BO games are very much away - in places like Concord, Fremont, Pleasenton, Manteca, Sacramento, Burlingame, etc. I don't think the class III teams go that far. So we carpool and work it out.

BO at the younger ages plays the fall season from mid-August through mid-December. There's a break in games and practices over the winter until the next try-out in February, although many teams do futsal or Bladium 1x per week but it's pretty casual. In the spring they go back into 2x per week practices and about 1 game per weekend from March - end of May. June and July are off. As the kids get older the schedules shift in the calendar.

What I've heard from parents with experience with both class III and Bay Oaks is that the coaching is the real difference between the two. The BO coaches are really really good - many have years and years of coaching experience, and the club works with them all on a monthly basis to make sure everyone is coaching to the same set of development-focused standards (as opposed to win-at-all-costs coaching which you see in other class I clubs). Better coaching means more skilled soccer players and a more developed sense of the game.

Yes, we spend most every weekend from August to December going to soccer games (I think we've had 2 entirely soccer-free weekends so far this fall) but the kids love it and love their teams and coaches. I would suggest your child try out for both Bay Oaks and a class III team and see what happens.

Hello - you say you have an Under 9 player, and you are trying to decide between Bay Oaks (Class I) or a Class III program?

Disclaimer: I have 2 kids playing soccer, have been involved (actively) in our soccer club for 6 years, so I have developed some rather strong personal opinions about youth sports, and soccer specifically.

8 year old kids should NOT BE SPECIALIZING in a sport - no matter how much they may love a sport, it is NOT in the best interests of their physical development to be specializing. Talk to your pediatrician - ask them about the myriad injuries that occur when young kids focus all of their energy - and exercise - on specific activities, developing (and straining) some muscle groups and not not working others. Talk to older, more experienced soccer parents about burnout, how their families adapt to the rigors of multiple practices, travel to games, etc.

Then, think about how many birthday parties, school events, etc, your child will NOT be able to enjoy... because a commitment to higher level soccer is a much more serious time commitment.

If your child truly LOVES soccer, there are other alternatives that you can pursue, and still play Class IV (Recreational) soccer - and still have a life outside of soccer. Play on a higher-level Rec team - Gold flight (when they move up to U10) is as challenging, or even MORE challenging, than the U9 Developmental programs - but they tend to respect the other acitivites that families wish to enjoy. Look into playing at Bladium - you can play indoors, year-round. Check into Winter league Futsal - small-sided soccer on hardwood courts (fast, skills- based, and FUN).

Also, look into the different clubs that make up Jack London Youth Soccer League. Rockridge is just one of 7; each Club runs its own Class III program. At Class III, it's really no longer about playing w/ your school friends; teams are chosen by competitive tryout, and winning a spot ONE year does NOT mean you will be invited back the NEXT year. Are you prepared to be ''cut'' after a year? Will your child still love the game, or in the event they don't make it, will they just give up and feel they are ''not good enough''? At 8 and 9 years of age, kids don't have the maturity to really understand being told not to come back.

If you are determined to play competitive soccer, look to the other side of the tunnel - the Class III Clubs in Orinda,etc, are *fabulous*, and the fields out there are beautiful. (Oakland, as we know, is strapped for $$, and playing fields are NOT maintained.)

You have to make the decision that is right for your family, but I encourage you to allow your child to enjoy ALL of their childhood - there is plenty of time, later, to specialize in just one sport, and to have your life devoted to playing ONE game, all year round. Good Luck. It's a family decision, and not one to be made lightly.

Just sign me - another soccer parent

I can't recall the exact question of the original post, but my son played Class I soccer for three years and I semi-jokingly called it a cult. The dedication and loyalty required was pretty intense. They play and train year-round, and during the competitive season practiced three times per week plus tournaments on weekends. Tournaments could be as close as SF or as far as Turlock. My son was a multi-sport athlete, and at one point we were told that if he wasn't dedicated 100% to soccer, he shouldn't play Class I. ''That's what Class III is for,'' we were told. Utlimately, I think that is true. Class III is for kids who like soccer but also want to do other things, and Class I is for those who live and breathe it 24/7, want to play in high school and college, etc. Also, Class III is much more local, whereas Class I will take you farther away for tournaments, sometimes requiring a hotel stay. --former soccer mom

I have 3 kids who play Bay Oaks and none of them have missed a single school event ever and have missed maybe a total of 4 birthdays over the last 2 years. It's really up to the parents and the child to choose if a school event should come before soccer. The coaches our kids have had with Bay Oaks have never said a word to us when we've chosen to put some other event over soccer. Birthday parties - well, I generally leave that decision up to my kids and they usually decide to play with the team, but the important thing is that it is the child's choice. Again, it's about the parents deciding the priorities.

It is not a year-round league. There are 2 month breaks in the winter and summer. In the winter many kids play soccer once/week but it's very casual. In the summer the kids don't have to do anything at all. Our kids swim, cycle and play tennis when they're not playing soccer, and I know other BO kids who do martial arts, theater, dance and a whole bunch of other physical activities. So doing BO at U9 is not necessarily specializing unless you choose to.

For the pre-teen age groups, the kids only practice twice a week. Our son's team added a 3rd conditioning practice for 6 weeks right in the beginning of the fall season (August - Sept) and our daughter's team added 4 weeks of Sutton Soccer at that same time of year. The rest of the fall practices were only 2x per week and the same in the spring. Once the kids' bodies are more developed, many teams have a 3rd practice that's either conditioning only or Sutton. Conditioning can be running/sprinting or swimming.

The Bay Oaks coaches want the kids to be physically and socially well-balanced, healthy and love soccer. Anon.

Good soccer club for 7 year old girl?

March 2009

We are looking for a good soccer club for a 7 year old girl. We live in the Berkeley Hills near Codornices Park. Saturday or Sunday is fine, along with after school time (after 4pm). Our daughter is very athletic, but hasn't recently participated in organized soccer. We're looking for something fun but serious- thank you! david

At age 7, your child is ready for ''rec'' soccer. Almost every community has a group and usually they are signed up in the about now. They usually have one practice a week, and one weekend game until the end of the season and then there may be a couple of games in a day. Just google ''soccer team + your community''. Spring season is minor and may be very loosey-goosy. It's serious from September to November.

The make up of these teams and the quality of coaching can vary widely.Some teams are nice; some are not. Some coaches emphasize one thing,others another.

At around age 10, should your kid like it, there are tryouts for class 1 teams like the Bay Oaks in Oakland and the Mavericks in Berkeley, etc. This is much more of a serious commitment on the part of child and parents as practices are two or three times a week; there are games most weekends, and away tournaments, depending on the coaches. Games may be an hour to an hour and half away on weekends, and the traveling ones can be in So.Cal or anywhere else. It's up to the coach about that. It's a much higher level of competition and commitment and can be very thrilling.

But at age 7, it's just about learning the game and seeing if your kid likes it. Just check it out for your community and do it pretty quickly so you don't miss the season. Anonymous

Soccer for a 5 year old

Jan 2009

Does anyone know any that are starting soon? My son has been wanting to play soccer for 1 1/2 now. Ideally a league that is between Oakland's Temescal District and Hercules... Drea

Montclair Soccer Club (and I think the other Jack London Soccer leagues -- Rockridge, West Oakland, Piedmont, etc.) offers low-key Spring Soccer starting in March (registering now), including for U6 (5yo) players. My 5yo played U6 soccer last fall and had a great time. There's more info here:, and the main Jack London site is Soccer Mom

Definitely check out Lil Kickers at the Bladium in Alameda. It may be a bit more of a drive, but they have a great kiddo program. I'm impressed with the focus on fundamentals and the creative ways they teach them to make them fun for little kids. Each kid gets a Lil Kickers jersey which is kind of fun too. There are some coaches that are better than others, so you may want to ask the registration person for a tip on that front. Phone number: 510.817.4999, x108. BTW, they have great birthday parties as well. MB

Drea~ ''West Contra Costa Youth Soccer League'' plays soccer in Hercules. The sign ups are this weekend (Sat Jan 28th) for spring play. They play every Saturday morning for six weeks for about an hour. My son is 5 and this is the first year we are playing too. We already signed up last month at another signup time they offered. Please see their website for further info. Hope this helps. Have a great day! pam

Rockridge soccer offers soccer for kids starting at 4-5 years old (under 6 or U6). The spring season starts in March I think so contact them and see if you can sign your son up for a team.

Soccer Basics runs Sat AM clinics, 1 hour, for 4-5 year olds. Also has a great summer camp, 5 years on up. My son first fell in love with soccer working with Coach Bill (and Coach Alex) at Soccer Basics. Another great summer camp is Footfire with Coach Carlos Hill, in Berkeley, but may be a little much for a 5 year old. You may be able to get on a spring soccer team, call the various clubs and ask, but it might be awkward as the regular season is in the fall. anon

I have been so impressed with Kidz Love Soccer in Alameda. Coach Chad has his finger on the pulse of the young set. Kids as young as 3.5 are learning soccer skills through fun games. In the 5 year old group, they do the games and then a little scrimmage at the end. It's always in the spirit of fun and my kids have loved it but they are actually learning to play. Sign up through Alameda Parks & Recreation. Soccer Mom

Winter soccer leagues in far East Bay

Nov 2007

I'm looking for winter soccer oppurtunities for my daughter. Her recreational season just ended but she still wants to play. We live in Oakley and are willing to commute, but only 50 miles or so. Any suggestions? Marilynn

You shouldn't have to drive 50 miles for an indoor soccer league. We are doing this with the Lamorinda Youth Association (LMYA) in Lafayette and I bet there is a similar group for Clayton, Concord, Brentwood, etc. Here is their link (less than 50 miles away but I think you can do better): Anon

We live in Berkeley - which soccer league?

Sept 2007

We are looking for any advice starting soccer. We missed fall signups so will sign up for spring. Three kids, 8 year old girl and 7 year old boy at LeConte elementary, and 4 year old girl, we live in South Berkeley. Are there any big differences between Rockridge Soccer and Albany Berkeley Soccer club? Is one league more likely to include our South Berkeley neighbors? carpooling sometimes would be great. thanks!

I'll bet few families have done both and will be unable to truly compare. Hopefully someone who has done both will respond.

If i were you I'd ask around at your school and see which league folks are in. If you know other kids in the South Berkeley school zone you can ask them, too.

One other deciding factor may being where weekday practices and Saturday games happen. My girls in the ABSC play on El Cerrito fields often (good fields). Last year one played all season in Richmond. This year 2 games are in Pinole. My friend with kids in the Oakland League says her kids play from North Oakland down to Alameda or Lake Merritt. I imagine you can check on line too see what fields are used (but am not sure). Soccer Mom

Most people in South Berkeley go with the Rockridge Soccer Club (RSC). There are actually four RSC teams at LeConte at the moment: Boys U8 (Tiburones), Boys U10 (Magnets), Girls U8 (Mighty Cheetahs), and Girls U8 (Sharks). It is certainly worth checking with those teams to see if there are any openings in the Spring.

RSC is a huge club with many teams in the U8 and U10 age groups. They are part of the Jack London Youth Soccer League and the U10 and older teams play against teams from Montclair, Piedmont, Alameda, and Oakland. Practices are usually at different fields in Oakland and the games can be in Oakland or as far away as Alameda.

The Albany-Berkeley Soccer Club is much smaller. It is part of the Alameda-Contra Costa Youth Soccer League. They play against teams from El Cerrito, Richmond, and San Pablo. Practices can be in Berkeley and Albany, with games in any of the participating cities.

So, part of your decision may depend on which direction you want to drive to get to practices and games.

I have a child in each club and volunteer extensively for RSC, so feel free to contact me for more information. Lucy

Soccer for 5 year old boy

Sept 2007

We are from Germany and new in Berkeley. We are searching for a soccer group that our 5 year old son can join or for other boys and girls in similar ages to play soccer with my son and husband. Please let us know if you can recommend something or are interested to meet for playing ''fun soccer'' in a park. We also need toodler sports or water playing for our 2 year old daughter, can you recommend something? Alexandra

If you are not too far away Montclair recreation center (Montclair Park, Oakland) might be the thing for you. They have once-a-week, low-key soccer classes, and other sorts of programs as well. Pretty inexpensive, too.

Sunday Soccer for 7 year old girl

May 2007

My strong 7-year-old daughter would love to play soccer or softball on a Sunday league. She is committed and willing to practice. There seem to be lots of choices for Saturday (during the same time she is in German School), and yet I'm not able to find anything for Sunday. Anyone have suggestions? Thanks in Advance. Deb

Check out Piedmont soccer . I believe the program is coed below the age of 8. I understand that they will be offering a Sunday game schedule in the fall, to accommodate Jewish children that cannot participate in games on Saturday mornings and others like you for whom Saturday morning games do not work. Susan

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Less competitive soccer team for 9-year-old

Dec 2005

We are a South Berkeley family interested in recommendations for the Rockridge Soccer Club from parents of kids with recent experiences. Our 9 year old son recently completed the Fall season with ABSC and we are looking for a less competitive team atmosphere. I have heard that Rockridge keeps the ''fun'' spirit alive and that practices are limited to once a week, but would like additional feedback regarding coaches' attitudes, etc. Also, is it possible to sign up for Spring 2006 if he did not play in the Fall?

Suprised to hear you found ABSC too competitive/driven. May have been the team/coach rather than club philosophy. That said, I do think Rockridge works very hard to keep things fun (but, again, it can depend on the coach). The club has select (class I and class III) teams at each age level, but most are at the class IV (aka ''house teams'') level, and, yes, practice only once a week. What you really want to consider/find out is where a given team is flighted in its age level. Gold will be very competitive, probably on a par with class III select teams. Silver less so and so forth, down through bronze, red, white, and as many colors as they need. In general, the lower the flight, the less pressure there is, but (have I said this too many times?), it depends on the coach. As far as spring registration is concerned, it was allowed last year, but I believe that was the first time in years. You can contact the age group registrar at U10coordinator AT to find out whether it will be possible.

Weekend Soccer club for 5-6 year olds

April 2004

My son LOVES sports and wants to play soccer. It seems like this should be easy, but I'm having a hard time finding the right program. The Montclair Soccer Club looks perfect so I've been watching their web site but I just discovered he misses the cut-off for their youngest group by two days for this fall's registration (kids have to be 6 years old on July 31st). I've seen a few clubs outside Oakland and summer camp programs on the BPN, but I'm looking for a Saturday or Sunday game with possibly weekday evening practices. I can't seem to find one in Oakland, the rec dept has their programs during weekday working hours. Does anyone know of a soccer program for 5-6 year olds with practices and games after 5pm and/or on weekends? Oakland preferred, but if there really is nothing else, we'll drive somewhere. Thanks!

Recommended:  Jack London Soccer League

Soccer for 5-year-old in Oakland

Jan 2004

I have a 5 year-old and I'm interested in getting him into soccer. Does anyone have experience with good places in Oakland. I looked on the website and I don't see anything for soccer in Oakland. Thanks Royah

For soccer ''lessons,'' keep an eye open for the various summer camps, although I'm not sure how many of the ''only soccer'' camps go down to that age level. As far as playing soccer is concerned, you want to hook up with one of the clubs (e.g., Montclair, Oakland or Rockridge, depending on where you live/go to school) in the Jack London Youth Soccer League. Their website is with links to the different club pages. I don't think any of the clubs register new players for the spring season, but registration will take place some time in the spring for the fall 2004 (and spring 2005) season. Any questions, feel free to email me. norm.vance

2003 & Earlier

Soccer for 6-year-old in Oakland

Sept 2003

Hi all - My nearly 6 year old son is ready for soccer, so I need to key in to what the happenings may be in the Oakland area... We are in Montclair and it would be great to find a local team. Does anyone have suggestions for Fall sign-ups (or, am I too late?) -- Thanks so much! Laurie Laurie

responding to almost 6-yo soccer. i too have an almost 6 yo who is expressing interest in soccer. dimond rec center has tues 3:45-4:45 pm class beg. sept 23 that we signed up for. seems a good intro and fun. sign-ups began wed sept 3, but can go there or call to see if there's still room michele

Soccer camp for 7-year-old girl

April 2003

Can anyone give me feedback on the Cal Strawberry Canyon Girls Soccer Camps? Can you recommend a girls soccer team/club in the El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley areas for a 7 year old girl? Mary

Your best bet for a team is probably the Albany-Berkeley Soccer Club. Their website is Spring registration is closed. Registration for the fall is scheduled for May.

Depending on where you live and where your daughter goes to school, you might also consider the Rockridge Soccer Club, which has a lot of Berkeley players as well. Their website is and registration for new players for the fall is on 4/29, 5/6 and 5/8 at Chabot School in north Oakland. Details on the web page. Have fun! Norm

Gifted 3rd Grade Athlete

March 2003

HELP I am trying to map out school for my daughter currently a student at Kaiser Elementary School, who is a gifted athlete. She is an average student academically and shows promise in the areas of math and science. We have ltd. funds as I am a single parent. I am trying to figure out how to give her as much exposure to athletics. She is currently on a soccer team, will do the swim team at Dimond pool. I am looking for a track Team that will not be to costly and am wondering if anyone has any experience with junior high schools and high schools which might help her cultivate her talents. Is there any parent who was in a similiar situation a few years ago and wishes someone had told them to do something they didn't. any input appreciated anon

Advice regarding spring soccer for 7 year old girl. Try this soccer link. They are currently doing spring soccer. They have girls and boys team. find your area. If you have any problems you can contact me via email. Good Luck. Soccer Mom

Soccer for 9-year-old beginner

Oct. 2003

My 9-year-old son (4th grade) is interested in playing soccer but has never played before. Many of his friends are already on teams and have been for several years. Can anyone recommend where he might get started but with kids his own age and not toddlers?! There are lots of soccer venues out there, but most 9-year-olds already have lots of experience, and the ''beginners'' I've checked out are all 4- and 5-year olds. I need to add that my son is Not real sporty and is also embarrassed by this. Is there anywhere to learn the very basics of the game and have fun playing it too? Thanks. Laurel

well, besides parents practicing in the back yard or on some local field, i've found that the eurosoccer camps are the best. they are a bunch of young men and women who come during the summer and fall, mostly from scotland. not only do they know their soccer, but are simply great with kids. they are very active in moraga (and other areas), and hopefully close to your location. in addition to basic and advanced camps, they offer specialized camps and clinics - for example, my 8 year old will be in a soccer goalie camp sunday at noon at rheem school. the eurosoccer folks have a web site which i've always had problems with, but it's: soccer is a great game for kids, and i hope it works out for you and your son, ferenc

As a parent who has coached ages 7-10, your son will be fine. Soccer, as compared to other organized sports, is pretty easy to pick up at the grade school levels. On our own school team, we had three kids start playing soccer at 4th grade, and while it was pretty obvious the first season, they blended in by the second year.

Here's a concrete suggestion. Most leagues (including Rockridge and Montclair soccer leagues) have sign-ups for fall soccer that occur in the spring. You son can sign-up and ask to be matched with a particular coach or kid he knows, and it will probably happen. Then have your son go to Albany Sports Camp or some summer camp that includes non-competitive soccer. (I would stay away from all-day summer soccer camps, they're pretty intense.) He can get some practice and fun with the game before fall even rolls around.

You could also talk to the parent-coach of a team that includes your son's friends -- coaches are volunteers who do it for the kids, and he/she might provide some good advice too. Have fun! Funloving Sports Parent

Hi, You didn't say what area you were interested in looking. My son is also 9 and his first time playing, he's having a great time and it's with kids his age. Your a little late in signing him up but you can try this website which gives you alot of information. This league practices in Kennedy Grove on the Damn Road and also in Hercules,Hannah Ranch Park. '' West Contra Costa Youth Soccer League'' Yolanda

Think about starting soccer in the spring season, because spring tends to be more informal and relaxed. Many of the established teams only play in the fall, so spring teams usually have a new mix of players from different fall teams along with players who are new to the sport or moving into the club. Last spring my son's under-12 team welcomed a couple of players who were playing soccer for their first season, and they seemed to have a good experience. Signups are in Feburary for Albany-Berkeley. All the local leagues have web sites with sign-up information. It's not necessary, but one way to work on skills is in a spring-break soccer camp. My son's favorite camp as a beginner was the one that Cal runs under the direction of the men's soccer program. There is a half-day camp in the summer specifically for beginners (ages 5-10) that he found age-appropriate and fun; it emphasized a few basic skills. We're not familiar with their spring program, but they offer one as do some other organizations. Ricki

Advice about kids playing soccer

Nov 1999

I'd love to hear from parents who's kids have participated in this sports. The pros, the cons. Did it take up all of your free time. Was it very competitive. What benefits did your children receive from it. How do we find out which league our kids we be in. What ages are appropriate, when do kids begin and for how long do they play? Do kids from other/private schools compete locally with kids from local public schools. Clearly, I need lots of advice.

While my kids are still far to young to tell you anything from a parents point of view, I can tell you that I played AYSO soccer from age 6 to age 16 and really enjoyed it. I was never a great player or a great athlete in general, but this was a fun way to go out and get some good exercise a few times a week, to make new friends, learn about teamwork and sportsmanship, and of course learn some new skills. While it didn't have a major impact on my life now, it was a really positive experience and it really showed me how much fun sports can be without being super competitive. I plan to have my daughters at least try soccer when they are older, and hopefully some sport will catch each one's fancy! Michael