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Mum's the word, soccer moms

Plan is to give kids a chance to focus on playing

Posted: November 14, 2008 9:56 p.m.
Updated: November 15, 2008 4:55 a.m.

AYSO Cheetah Cat Mateo Vasquez, 5, left, enjoys one of the last games of his first season. His father/coach thinks the "Silent Sunday" is a good idea.

 
Local soccer moms and dads will observe 50 minutes of silence this weekend in the valley's first-ever silent soccer games.

The event billed by a Santa Clarita division of the American Youth Soccer Organization as "Silent Sunday" will be the first game in which moms and dads are expected to keep quiet.

Some parents and coaches think it's a great idea to promote better communication between young players.

Some parents think it's ridiculous that they'll be prohibited from cheering on their kids.

John Cox, regional commissioner of the AYSO Saugus Region 46, is the man behind the valley's silence.

The national AYSO calls the event Silent Saturday, but Santa Clarita Valley officials scheduled the historic event for Sunday.

"It's been tried in other regions but this is the first for Santa Clarita. Overall, I think it'll go over quite well.

I've received a little bit of negativity from one parent and I was kind of anticipating your call," Cox said.

Beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday, six AYSO games will be played out in two locations: Rio Norte Junior High School and Arroyo Seco Junior High School.

Will parents be allowed to cheer on their kids?

"They can cheer on their kids ... to an extent," Cox said.

The point of Silent Sunday is not so much about muzzling vocal and excitable parents, but about allowing kids to play and communicate with each other.

"We're trying to get the kids to play without people from the sidelines telling (them) what to do," Cox said.
Stephen Thomas, a Valencia father, calls the program, "an absolutely insane event."

"Basically, it's a policy where no parent is allowed to cheer for their kids. I'm not kidding, it's insane, and we're not going to allow our daughter to participate," he said.

Thomas is a local comedian but finds nothing funny in the AYSO policy.

"I'm also going to draft an official letter to them," Thomas said.

Jackie Ferialdi is the Director of Sportsmanship for Region 46 which is initiating the "Silent Sunday" in Santa Clarita Valley.

As a mother of five young soccer players, she is the quintessential Santa Clarita Valley soccer mom.
She and her husband, Mike, are both coaches for a sport and try to promote good sportsmanship - whether the game is competitive or not.

Some of the games slated for Silent Sunday are competitive, others are not.

"A ‘woo-hoo' is OK," she said about parents cheering when their child scores. "I can't imagine a place where a ‘woo-hoo' wouldn't be OK."

Ferialdi was asked if the Silent Sunday rules were meant to muzzle parents yelling constantly on the sidelines.

"Bingo," she said.

The AYSO rules for Silent Sunday are spelled out on the group's Web site and are simple: parents may speak quietly among themselves on the sidelines and make no comment that could be heard by the players or the referee; coaches may not provide any direction verbal or non-verbal and players may "have fun and enjoy the opportunity to communicate with your teammates."

Carlos Vasquez, a Valencia father of three, just wrapped up his first season as coach of his son, Mateo's, team of five-year-olds called The Cheetah Cats.

"I think it's a great idea," Vasquez said. "The biggest rule-breakers are the parents. They forget that they sign a contract for their kids to have fun."

Simon Howell, a Valencia father of two, whose daughter Rachel is a long-standing player, is a former AYSO referee.

"I can see the justification for this from one side of the fence," he said. "But I think to expect the parents to be quiet completely is wrong. I've heard of one alternative that moves the parents farther back from the play and I think that's a much better idea."

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