Club Champions League ScrimmageFest features ‘street soccer’ atmosphere for U9s, U10s
The Club Champions League hosted its annual ScrimmageFest at FASA Park on Saturday, where 65 U9 and U10 teams from 11 clubs each enjoyed four matches of free, unstructured play in what many are calling an organized version of “street soccer.”
ScrimmageFest matches were played throughout the morning and afternoon on small-sided fields with 30 minutes of running clock, no referees and no keeping score.
“It’s not as rigid as a regular game which allowed for a lot more freedom and creativity, we were able to work on some things like playing quicker passes,” said Arlington Soccer Association coach Raefer Warner. “This was a time for the players try new things on the field and have fun, not for wins and losses, but just to play.”
Along with Arlington, teams from other CCL clubs including Braddock Road Youth Club, DC Stoddert, FC Frederick, Virginia Legacy, Fredericksburg FC (Formerly FASA), Southwestern Youth Association, McLean Youth Soccer, Potomac Soccer Association, Beach FC and Roanoke Star SC attended the event.
“It was a great atmosphere, and without referees it was a good chance to work on passing and technical skills,” said Virginia Legacy coach Jarod Brown.
The CCL ScrimmageFest also featured an individual skills competition, with a juggling category and a slalom category. The event is a continuation of one that started over 10 years ago at FC Frederick, and following the formation of the new-look CCL in 2013, member clubs decided to continue ScrimmageFest at a league-wide level. What was once a low-cost event is now completely free for participating clubs, which was a top priority for the league in the organization of ScrimmageFest.
Coaches provided the necessary loose officiating of the games, making obvious offside calls, goal kicks and corner kicks. Some coaches took the referee-free atmosphere as a chance to let the kids play a freestyle, backyard version of soccer to emphasize creativity, while others took the opportunity of being on the field with the kids to take a more hands-on approach.
“The fun, unstructured play for the kids, seeing the kids make the decisions and learning from the decisions as they go, and to have the coaches step in and provide instruction in a positive way is a one-of-a-kind environment,” said CCL Executive Director Brian Kuk.
Fun is the primary emphasis of ScrimmageFest, which the 16 CCL club directors expect will help to continue the growing love for the game that young players are experiencing. David Shaw, the new Director of Coaching at Fredericksburg FC (formerly FASA), says that when young players are having fun, it means that they’re learning, which is a testament to the growing quality of American youth soccer.
“CCL is putting on a really fun and enjoyable event with the ScrimmageFest,” Shaw said. “It coincides with the attitude of our clubs, and it’s exactly what we want our U9s and U10s doing. I’d love our 11s and 12s to be doing that as well.”
“We had kids there at 8 o’clock this morning in the cold, and they just wanted to play,” Shaw continued.
“The more we can do something like that the better. Kids are interacting and making friends, and playing with different people outside of a structured game. Kids learn better when they’re having fun.”
This year’s ScrimmageFest in Fredericksburg coincided with the grand opening of the VYSA Training Center on, which hosted the U15-U18 Virginia State Cup Final Four as its first ever event. The training center is on the same grounds as FASA Park, which allowed for players and parents to walk in between the events, and even watch State Cup games from ScrimmageFest fields and vise-versa. With 23 of the 32 State Cup semifinalist teams hailing from the CCL, ScrimmageFest participants see their own clubs compete for spots in Sunday’s state championships – a stage that they will be vying to reach in the coming years themselves.
CCL teams will be well-represented in Sunday’s Virginia State Cup final matches, boasting 11 of the 16 teams playing for titles.