Daily physical activity is important for everyone, but especially for children and adolescents. When kids are encouraged to get active on a regular basis, they begin forming positive habits that can last their entire lives. Unfortunately, statistics show that only one in four kids get the recommended 60 minutes or more of daily activity. One of the best (and easily most popular) way parents get their children involved in exercise is through organized sports, through either a school or community league.
Fortunately, many kids already enjoy being a part of organized sports. The Women’s Sports Foundation states that 75% of boys and 69% of girls from the ages of eight to 17 participated in organized sports the previous year. A third of the girls who play a sport describe it as an important part of who they are, according to a national survey. But what sports are kids playing the most in the U.S. and worldwide, and why?
Why People Love Soccer.
Of the several sports kids and teens participate in, it seems soccer is one of the most popular. Over 209,000 girls and 284,000 boys play soccer in high school. As of 2013, there are over 12 million outdoor soccer participants in the U.S. Part of the sport’s popularity can be attributed to its general simplicity (kick the ball into the net) combined with potential complex plays, interactions, and footwork. The sport is also very physically demanding and rewarding. Soccer players (save for goalies) will run an average of six miles during a game.
Soccer (or “football” as it is called elsewhere) isn’t only beloved in America, though; it’s played just as fervently (if not more so) in other places all around the world. Each year around 25 million kids play soccer/football around the world! In places like Italy, Brazil, Portugal, and Sweden, soccer/football is an especially big deal at both the professional and amateur levels. Italy, for instance has won four World Cups, and Portugal has played in six World Cups. In European nations and elsewhere soccer has become an important staple of community building and international relations.
There are many great opportunities for kids and adults to experience the joy of soccer/football around the world. Soccer tours are special organized trips for soccer teams to watch and compete with other teams from across the globe. There’s more to these tours than just playing and witnessing soccer. Destinations to places like Italy and Switzerland mean that one can also experience the rich history of these countries, not only in terms of the sport but also in terms of the architecture, culture, and food.
It isn’t just important for children to get active, it’s also important for them to see the world and experience other cultures. Soccer provides both great exercise and a gateway to other parts of the world filled with people who share a love of the sport and sportsmanship!