I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I played soccer because I couldn’t catch or hit a baseball (10 years old), and American football was thought to be too dangerous – even in 1977. Youth soccer registration was also only $25, the uniform was $35 and cleats were just $20. The club was 100% volunteer. My mother (Anita Slatton) was my first coach, because the dads in the room wouldn’t do it. She knew nothing about the game, so she went to the library and got a book on “the Dutch Method“.
We were poor. We had no cable TV, no video games. We didn’t even have air conditioning. I had a soccer ball though, and I used to juggle that ball all the time. It made me a good ball handler. However, because I didn’t have anyone to play with very often, I never really mastered the ability to predict or anticipate what others would do, when they approached me or I approached them.
That’s where “free play” comes in . . .