Football has been a popular sport in the UK for decades. With women’s football becoming ever more popular, our love for “the beautiful game” seems to keep on growing. Whether you’re a parent eagerly searching for local football classes for kids, exploring the health benefits of footie for children, or desperately trying to get to grips with the offside rule and transfer windows, the Pebble team is here to help.
Benefits of football for kids
While all sports have benefits for kids, children’s football clubs and classes offer various benefits beyond just physical exercise. In fact, playing in a team, getting outdoors and improving their agility can help to contribute to their overall development.
Physical fitness: football is a great way for kids to stay active and improve their fitness, strength, agility, and coordination. As with any sport, football promotes a healthy lifestyle and helps to combat childhood obesity.
Teamwork: playing as part of a team helps children to develop really useful teamwork and cooperation skills, which will stand them in good stead for future personal and professional relationships. It is also a great way to socialise and meet new people (for kids and parents alike!)
Time in nature: kids and screen-time is a hot topic. Playing football encourages children to engage in physical activities and enjoy the benefits of spending time outside.
Discipline and respect: the weekly commitment of going to training and matches can teach kids discipline, commitment and team skills. Football also teaches children the importance of respecting rules, teammates and coaches.
Confidence: scoring goals, making successful passes, and mastering new skills in football can significantly boost a child's self-confidence.
Developing motor-skills: there are plenty of football classes which focus on younger children, teaching them skills such as ball control and shooting at a goal or target, which can enhance their gross motor skills and fine-tune their hand-eye and foot-eye coordination.
Football schedules and transfer windows
Matches are played on various days of the week, but Saturdays are the most common. The year is split into three sections: the main season is when competition and league games are played, and runs from August to May; the off-season is when players get fit for the coming season, and is June to July; and the preseason is when players train or play “friendly” matches in July and early August.
Transfer windows are the period during which clubs can buy, sell, or loan players. There are two transfer windows: the summer transfer window, which usually opens in early June and closes in late August, and the winter transfer window, which opens in January and closes in early February.
When it comes to football clubs for kids, they don’t necessarily follow the same seasonal pattern or transfer windows as professional football clubs. While it will inevitably vary from club to club, many will follow a term time pattern, while others will specifically be holiday clubs. The best thing to do is to find a kids football club close to home and ask the coach.
Rules of football
If you’re considering signing your children up to a football club, then it can help to get your head around some of the main rules of the game. Here are a few pointers to get you started.
What is the offside rule?
This is one of the rules of football that people find it hard to grasp. It isn’t easy to explain, but we’re going to give it our best shot!
Imagine a line drawn across the field just before the ball is played to an attacking player. If that attacking player is closer to the opponent's goal line than both the ball and the last defender when the ball is played to them, they are considered offside. Being offside at the moment of the pass results in a free-kick for the defending team.
What is a foul?
Players are not allowed to use excessive force or commit dangerous plays. Common fouls include tripping, pushing, or using hands to handle the ball (excluding the goalkeeper within their penalty area). In professional football, misconduct such as violent conduct or abusive language may result in a yellow or red card.
What other football rules or terminology do parents need to know?
When the ball crosses the sideline, the opposing team to the one that last touched the ball is awarded a throw-in. The player must use both hands and throw the ball from over their head while keeping both feet on the ground.
A penalty is awarded when a defending player fouls an attacking player inside their penalty area. The attacking team takes the penalty from a designated spot, 12 yards from the goal line.
If the attacking team kicks the ball out over the goal line, the defending team is awarded a goal kick. The ball is placed within the six-yard box and must be kicked back into play.
If the defending team kicks the ball out over their own goal line, the attacking team is awarded a corner kick, which must be taken from the corner arc.
What are the key differences in five-a-side football?
Many kids football clubs will play five-a-side matches. As the name suggests, team sizes are reduced from 11 players to 5, plus the goalkeeper. The pitch is usually smaller, and matches are shorter and faster. While the basic rules of play are the same, the fast-paced nature of the game means that there is no off-side rule.
When is the new football kit released?
If your little one is a football fan, they might be eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new season’s kit. Although exact dates may vary from club to club, football clubs typically release new kits before the start of each season, often during the summer months. It’s also worth knowing that there are different home and away kits, so committing to getting the latest kit can get expensive!
How to get mud out of football kits
While most of this blog is designed to help non-football loving parents get to grips with the basics of being a football mum or dad, we’re all about offering practical tips here at Pebble.
We’ve already covered the topic of picking football boots for kids in our blog about finding the right football class, but what about football kits? Many children’s football clubs will have their own kit, especially if they play against other local teams. However, some may be happy for your children to train in shorts and t-shirts.
Whatever they wear, football can be a muddy affair, and getting grass and mud stains out of their kit can be a challenge. Here are a few tips from our team to yours!
Act fast: if your kids come in from football and throw their kit in the corner of their room, or leave it to fester in a dark cupboard until the night before their next match, then stains will bed-in.
Pre-treat stains: before washing, pre-treat any mud and grass stains with a stain remover before popping it in the machine.
Wash carefully: turn your kit inside out and wash it in cold water with a mild detergent. Bleach can damage the fabric and printed logos.
Smelling fresh: if your kit has stubborn odours, adding a cup of white vinegar to the wash can help.
Air dry: air drying is always better than using a dryer - apart from it being better for clothes, it is also better for the environment.
From the benefits football offers, to the excitement of following football schedules, understanding the rules, and even celebrating the release of new football kits, there's something for everyone.
Want to know more about football for kids?
Our blog explores how to find the right football class for your kids, including topics such as the best age to join a kids' football club, football for younger kids, football clubs for girls, kids’ football kits and how to buy kids’ football boots.