What’s up with the all the buddies? Chicago Superstars pairs each child up with an older peer. There are several reasons for doing so.
Most children are nervous when joining a new group, especially if they don’t have a friend going with them. To help ease the anxiety, we buddy up! What little one doesn’t love the attention of an older child? As soon as a new child joins Chicago Superstars they have an instant friend that stays by their side to walk them through the ropes. This feeling of having a buddy creates a sense of belonging and inclusion that is so important to any program. Also, many of the buddies have played soccer before and are able to assist in giving directions and walking the children through the drills.
Having a buddy that is older, rather than the same age, prevents the child from comparing their talents to their own peer group. If you go back to the previous blog post, it hits on the same topic of building up the child’s spirit. There aren’t many children that enjoy being told what to do by someone that is younger than or the same age as them. Especially when we are trying to build up their self-confidence, we do not want them to compare themselves to others.
Older buddies are also able to understand the end game. For example, they are able to have enough self-control to not score a goal in the game, but understand that they should pass the ball to the younger children so they can succeed. Older buddies are also able to take direction from the coach and therapist in helping each child with their specific goal. If the coach wants one child to work on kicking from the inside of his right foot, the older buddy will make sure that the child isn’t continuously toe-kicking with his left foot, for instance.
Finally, when you have lots of children with different disabilities, the more hands on deck the better! Everyone has a different goal that they are working on, and a coach is just one person. The buddies truly help this program succeed. The kids have so much fun with the buddies as guides!
And at this point, it would be a disservice to not mention the parents on the side lines! Chicago Superstars prefers that parents do not drop-off their child and leave. It can be discussed with the coach. However, we have found that the ability to pop over and ask a quick question of the parent about what rewards work at home or how they handle certain situations, provides consistency and helps the child reach their maximum potential. If something feels off to the therapist, just being able to ask the parent if the child slept ok or if he or she is having a rough day in general, helps us help the child.
Buddy up and let’s score goals!