When your daughter dreams of playing in the Women’s World Cup, life as a soccer dad can get intense
Go Out and Play
Montgomery County offers a wide range of opportunities for soccer players—from toddler programs and parent-coached recreation leagues to competitive club teams that travel for games. The most elite programs include the Maryland Olympic Development Program and a development academy team aligned with U.S. Soccer.
Recreation programs may allow flexibility with age groupings, but players on club teams are typically grouped together according to birth date, rather than their grade in school. Girls born in 2009, for example, would play this fall with an under-11 (U11) team. Many clubs have multiple teams in the same age group to accommodate different levels of skill.
Here’s an overview of many of the organizations in this area offering girls soccer.
|Organization||Rec/Development Teams||Girls Travel Teams*||Location**||Website|
|Bethesda Soccer Club||—||U8 – U19||Bethesda||bethesdasoccer.org|
|Brit-Am Soccer Academy||age 18 mo. – 18||—||Bethesda||brit-am.com|
|City Of Rockville||K – 8TH||—||Rockville||rockvillemd.gov/672/youth-leagues|
|Damascus Soccer Club||age 3 – 19||U10 – U19||Damascus||damascussoccer.org|
|DC Stoddert Soccer||age 3 – 9||U9 – U20||Washington, DC||stoddert.com|
|Elite Soccer Youth Development Academy||age 5 – 13||U12 – U18||Silver Spring||esyda.org|
|FC Girondins de Bordeaux USA||—||U13 – U16||Darnestown||fcbordeauxusa.com|
|Juventus Academy DC Metro||—||U7 – U12||Potomac||juventusdcmetro.com|
|The Lions Soccer||age 4 – 8||—||Potomac||thelionssoccer.com|
|Maryland Rush Montgomery||age 8 – 10||U11 – U19||Gaithersburg||marylandrush.com|
|Montgomery County Recreation||age 3 – 8||—||Countywide||montgomerycounty|
|Montgomery Soccer Inc.||age 4 – 18||U10 – U19||Countywide||msisoccer.org|
|Olney Boys and Girls Community Sports Assoc.||pre-K – 8TH||U10 – U19||Olney||obgc.com|
|Player Progression Academy||age 4 – 12||U8 – U15||Potomac||ppateam.com|
|Potomac Soccer Assoc.||—||U8 – U19||Potomac||potomacsoccer.org|
|Soccer Assoc. of Montgomery||age 2 – 7||U7 – U19||Boyds||samsoccer.org|
|Soccer Shots||age 2 – 8||—||Rockville||soccershots.org|
|S.O.T.A.M. Futbol Academy||—||U10 – U12||Silver Spring||sotamfa.com|
|Takoma Soccer||age 3 – 18||—||Takoma Park||takomasoccer.org|
|Xeneizes MD Soccer Academy||age 5 – 7||U7 – U11||Darnestown||xeneizesmd.com|
* Depending on enrollment levels, clubs may add or remove age groups year to year.
** Location refers to the area where most practices and home games are held.
Known the world over as “the beautiful game,” soccer’s inherent exercise is certainly beneficial. But for a parent, the sport can also be scary. Injuries to the brain, neck, knees and ankles are a fact of soccer life—especially for girls, who are more likely than boys to suffer concussions and sprained or torn ligaments, according to numerous medical studies.
“Now that we have made it a year-round sport, the injuries have really become an epidemic,” says Bethesda physical therapist Stacy King, who specializes in treating youth soccer players. “We are seeing more of a broad spectrum of problems, especially from overuse injuries, because parents are letting things get out of control with their children playing one sport too much and too young.”
Here are the three biggest issues King sees in girls who play soccer 10 to 12 months of the year:
In soccer, concussions can occur after contact with the ball, the ground, a goal post, or another player’s elbow or head. A study released in March by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that from 2010 to 2016, an average of 11,670 girls in the U.S. were treated in the emergency room each year for soccer-related brain injuries. Some doctors have recommended an outright ban on teens and pre-teens striking the ball with their heads, but Maryland State Youth Soccer Association rules only forbid players under the age of 11 from heading the ball. Some research suggests that learning to strike the ball with the forehead near the hairline reduces the risk of concussions; other data shows that repeated head contact with the ball may prove to be problematic and could even cause long-term cognitive damage.
Ligament strains are common in many sports, but research shows that in soccer, the incidence of torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) of the knee is greater among females after puberty than it is for males. Several members of this year’s U.S. Women’s World Cup team have suffered the injury, which typically requires a year or more of recovery time. Though the experts don’t all agree that the risk of ACL tears in soccer can be alleviated through proper training, King feels that exercises to strengthen the hamstrings and learning to “play lower, with knees bent,” can reduce the chances of this injury.
While bone breaks, ankle sprains and concussions happen in an instant, other maladies, such as tendinitis of the knees or ankles, often occur as a result of overuse. “Your body absolutely needs training seasons and cycles to help avoid injuries,” King says. “There needs to be an offseason for the body to rest.” That doesn’t mean soccer players should be sedentary all summer or winter. King recommends playing other sports so the body works all muscle and tendon groups. “Believe it or not, that will help your child get better in her primary sport…but try selling that idea to the parents in Montgomery County.”