The popularity of youth soccer in the United States has grown exponentially in recent years to make it the second most played sport for boys and girls under the age of 13. With both the men’s and women’s U.S. national teams performances in prestigious global matches at the World Cup and Olympics, soccer has begun to catch the eye of more and more children around the nation.
Even though soccer is just gaining traction as a popular youth sport in the United States, it is one of the most played and watched sports in the world and has been around for ages. According to FIFA, documentation of a similar game dates back to China in the second and third centuries B.C. However, the version that is currently played is said to have started in England in 1863.
Most people know the basics of soccer – it is played by passing and shooting a ball with feet; however, there is much more to the game. Here are five things you didn’t know about soccer to help you gain a better understanding of the game.
1. A soccer player can run up to seven miles a game.
According to an article by nytimesdaily.com, soccer players were found to run the most out of all athletes. Players who were tracked by the motion-tracking technology company, SportsVu, averaged running seven miles a game. Some players were even running up to 9.5 miles per game. Of course, the amount a player runs during a game varies between levels, ages, and field size; but soccer is a great sport to get into for those looking to find a great source of exercise.
2. The size of a soccer field can vary.
Also called a pitch, the soccer field can vary in lengths and widths depending on the space available for play. FIFA has made official rules about field sizes and has set field standards for all professional leagues to follow. The dimensions of a professional field must be 100 to130 yards in length and 50 to 100 yards in width. As long as the field is in line with these dimensions the field is a legal size to play professional games on. In youth soccer leagues, the field size is typically adjusted to best accommodate the ages of the players.
3. You can use your hands for throw-ins.
Soccer is known as being the sport that is strictly played by kicking a ball with your feet. This is true except for the goalie who is allowed to catch, throw and handle the ball with their hands throughout the game. However, there is an instance when field players are allowed to use their hands – a throw-in. When the ball goes out of bounds off on the sidelines, a player whose team receives the ball back is supposed to throw the ball back into play. Throw-ins are the only time a field player is allowed to use their hands and they must have both feet on the ground and throw the ball with both of their hands over their heads for a legal throw.
4. Pele is the most well-known soccer player.
Many believe Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or Pele, is the greatest soccer player of all time. This Brazilian took his team to four World Cup appearances and won three of them. Pele began playing soccer professionally when he was 15 and ended up scoring 1,281 goals in his professional career before officially retiring in 1977.
5. The World Cup is the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world.
The World Cup is held every four years where 32 teams across the globe face off to be the soccer champion of the world. It was last held in Brazil in 2014 when Germany beat Argentina for its fourth World Cup championship. CNN.com reported that in 2010, 3.2 billion people worldwide watched the World Cup, which is about 46% of the world’s population.
Are you interested in getting your child involved with the world’s most popular sport? If your child wants to play soccer, click here to learn more about i9 Sports® youth soccer leagues.