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Coaches and Parents Guide to Soccer Activities Outside of the Harvard Soccer Club
Even though the Harvard soccer seasons take place in the fall and spring, coaches, players, and parents looking to extend the soccer experience year round have many options. This describes the different soccer activities that are available in the communities surrounding Harvard.
Disclaimer: The philosophy of the Harvard Soccer Club is that the more kids play the game the better it is for their overall soccer development. The Club encourages all interested coaches and parents to organize, encourage, and facilitate the involvement of the boys and girls of Harvard to participate in soccer activities outside of the HSC. The Club will also allow the use of the Harvard Soccer Club logo and uniforms for groups participating in soccer activities. The HSC, however, does not sponsor or endorse any teams engaged in the activities outlined in this document and under no circumstances should HSC confidential information (email addresses, phone numbers, player ranking sheets, and other personal data) be used to support or organize these activities.
A Wealth of Choices
The following is a sample listing of the different kinds of soccer activities that are available. The sections that follow describe everything that you need to know about getting started.
·         Many of the surrounding towns and premier soccer clubs sponsor soccer tournaments during the spring and fall. These usually take place over the Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Memorial Day weekends. Harvard is in a great location because many of these tournaments take place at Devens, Pepperell, and the Citizens Bank Soccer Fields in Lancaster, MA.
Tournaments typically consist of 3-4 games taking place over one or two days. At  the U8 and U9 level they usually schedule all the games on one day with an hour or two between the games.
For U11s and above these are competitive tournaments where scores are recorded, standings posted, with trophies or metals going to the winners.
For U10 and below, Massachusetts Youth Soccer has strict guidelines that require all U10 and below age groups must participate in recreational tournaments only. No scores are reported or standings kept. At most tournaments there are participation prizes (small trophies or metals) given out to all the players.
When you submit your entry form it is typical that you are asked to describe your team skill level and experience. The tournament director will put you in with teams of similar skills.
The following is an example of a local tournament.
One important item to note in a tournament is the format for the age bracket that you are in. U8s are always 6v6, but U10 can be either 6v6 or 8v8, and U11, and U12 can be either 8v8 or 11v11. Make sure that you enter the correct division.
The tournament websites will tell you everything that is required for you to register and play in the tournament, but the following is a check list for most tournaments.
1.                  Team Roster
You must supply a team roster. For U11 and above it needs to be signed by the Harvard Soccer Club registrar. There is no standard roster form. One sample form is listed here: Sample_Roster.xls
2.                  Player Pass Cards or Birth Certificates
For U11 players and above you must supply player pass cards for each person on your team. The HSC registrar can help you with this. For U8 and U10, it is normally accepted if you supply a copy of each player’s birth certificate. This is checked at the tournament registration to insure all players fall within the age group that you playing in.
3.                  Medical Releases
Most tournaments have a Medical Release Form posted on their website that must be completed for each player on your team. These will cover the players should an injury occur and medical treatment is required before the parents can be contacted.
4.                  Patches
Check the tournament information to see if the tournament is a patch tournament.  At a patch tournament, after each a game, the players on each team exchange with each other a fabric patch of their respective soccer clubs. The Harvard Soccer Club has patches that can be purchased for a very nominal fee. If you are playing in U12 and above, it is best to confirm with the tournament if patch exchanges are being done for the older teams.
Other Thinks that you need to know
Organize the parents to bring canopies, chairs, food, blankets to cover the ground, and games. It is especially important to bring games that the kids can play sitting or lying down on blankets so that they conserve their energy between the games.
Special Format Tournaments
If you have never watched or played in a 3v3 tournament, you don’t know what you are missing. They are a lot of fun for the kids and the spectators. In a 3v3 game there is no goal keeper, the goals are small (4’ x 6’), and there is a keep out area in front of the goal where no ball contact is allowed. The field size is approximately 40’x30’ or 30’x20’. The roster size is usually 5 or 6 players’ maximum. The play is fast and substitutions are made every 3 or 4 minutes.



Where to find out about upcoming Tournaments


One of the best places for upcoming tournaments is the Mass Youth Soccer website.
A link on the main page will take you to the tournament page.
Further information about any listed tournament can be found by going to the sponsoring club’s website.

Indoor Soccer Leagues
A very popular soccer option over the fall and winter months is indoor soccer. Many Harvard coaches and parents organize teams that participate in the indoor soccer leagues at the surrounding indoor facilities. Indoor soccer leagues are available for U8 through adult. The format is 6v6, and most of the turfs are boarded (wood or Plexiglas sides surround the field much like a hockey rink). The games consist of two 25-minute halves.
There are typically three sessions, each eight weeks long, which span fall, winter, and spring. The fall and spring overlap with the HSC soccer season by a couple of weeks. The most popular age groups are U8, U10, and U12. Each of these has separate girls and boys divisions and within these divisions there are two or three skill levels. Division 1 teams are typically either in-town teams that have been playing together for a couple of seasons, or club soccer teams. If you are not sure which division is right for you, talk to the age group coordinator at the indoor facility.
Important: Start planning early by reserving a slot for your team 2-3 months before the start of the indoor season. For example, you should contact the indoor facility in August/September for the session which starts in October. Most teams continue playing all three sessions, and current registered teams are given priority over new teams just coming into the league. The following is a list of indoor soccer facilities near Harvard.
Note on roster size: For a 6v6 format the ideal roster size is 10 players. This gives everyone plenty of playing time and allows for a good number of backup players in case some players are no-shows. Because the sessions run over holiday weekends, there will be a few games that conflict with family vacations.