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In Pictures: On the pitch, kids play for the love of the game

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Alex Chiet, the technical director for the Ontario Soccer Association says "parents may not understand how detrimental it is to overemphasize winning, so they think we’re being too politically correct, that we’re trying to water down the experience."

Chris Young//The Globe and Mail/Chris Young//The Globe and Mail

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The new model in Canadian sports rejects the view that competition is a survival-of-the-fittest test for young athletes. “To say that winning a game 8-0 will make kids cutthroat in the future is ludicrous,” says Richard Way.

Chris Young//The Globe and Mail/Chris Young//The Globe and Mail

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All of the country’s 56 national sports bodies, under the direction of Sport Canada, are crafting plans for long-term athlete development that, from the youngest years, value having fun and honing skills over hoisting trophies.

Chris Young//The Globe and Mail/Chris Young//The Globe and Mail

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Among the Ontario Soccer Association’s innovations for the upcoming outdoor season: Tournaments for players under the age of eight will be replaced by one-day “festivals” where scores aren’t officially counted.

Chris Young//The Globe and Mail/Chris Young//The Globe and Mail

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“We want young players to know their ABCs and develop basic motor skills, to learn how to control the ball, to look up and perceive what’s around them, to make decisions,” says Sylvie Beliveau, the Canadian Soccer Association’s manager of long-term player development.

Chris Young//The Globe and Mail/Chris Young//The Globe and Mail

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Richard Way, one of the architects of long-term athlete development, says of the majority of Olympic athletes surveyed specialize at 14 or 15 – not 8 or 9.

Chris Young//The Globe and Mail/Chris Young//The Globe and Mail

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