Local soccer tournament sidelines parents from the sidelines

When parents go to watch this weekend's soccer tournament in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, they'll have to sit farther away than normal, as a new ban at Life Time Fitness focuses on keeping parents from getting too involved.

Youth sports is filled with stories of parents’ bad behavior toward coaches, refs and even players. So, a new soccer tournament is sidelining parents from the sidelines in an effort to just let the young players play.

“We like to come out and support the team and watch as they improve and play against the other team," said mother Lindsay Thomas.

For the Waconia Wildcats, hitting the soccer field is a good way to get their kicks. But soon, it will be the parents and coaches who will be getting the boot.

"I think our kids are at an age when we want them to be more independent and make their own decisions, and I think this is a unique way of showing them how they can do it," Thomas said.       

The Minnesota Youth Soccer Association is co-sponsoring a tournament called the Freedom Cup at Life Time's new sport complex this weekend. Tournament rules will require parents and coaches to watch the games from a distance so the players can enjoy themselves without any added pressure.

"I think it’s an opportunity for the parents to help reset the culture of youth sports, that it’s not all about pressure to win and be right and wrong," said Cam Stoltz with MYSA.

Tournament organizers say parents must watch the action from at least 30 feet away and are not allowed to have any interaction with the refs. Coaches must also prepare their team before the kick off and during halftime, rather than give them direction during the game.

"What we've seen more recently is parents trying to coach their kids from the sidelines telling them what to do, where to be, when they need to deciding that for themselves," said assistant coach Justin Pozega.

After all, for these 11 and 12 year olds, having a good time should be the ultimate goal.

"Really, what we are here for is to have fun and play soccer and have it develop into something that is a lifelong passion they have," Thomas said.

Everyone who participates in the tournament will get a medal. Organizers say if all goes well, they hope to turn the tournament into an annual event.