Why do we split young soccer players by gender?

Saturday morning, shortly after my friend Trevor and I had completely our lap around Greenback – at a blistering pace I might add – you could find us relaxing on the deck of our favorite coffee shop, Forza. There, we had the perfect view as parents and 5-8 year olds invaded the soccer fields and set up for their matches.

The games started and we watched with amusement as goalies who would eventually fit into their jersey 5 years from now whiffed on punts, entire packs of kids followed the ball around the field en masse, and 12 year olds ruled the field as referees.

But we noticed something odd. Even though the talent was the same on each field, each team was either all boys or all girls. We asked the question, “When kids are that young, why not have boys and girls play together?”

Yes, I understand that there’s an age where each gender’s bodies start developing at different paces and it makes sense to separate them. But at the very earliest ages, why not instill in kids that being good at what you do has nothing to do with gender?

I have no answer here. Just curious.

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