Why is Youth Soccer so Expensive?

There is nothing more exciting than preparing for the big game day. Kit…washed, ball…pumped, water bottle…full. It’s time to watch your child give their all out on the field. As exciting as it may be to see your little kicker score the final goal to win the game, have you ever found yourself questioning where your money is going? Why is youth soccer so expensive? 

Youth soccer is expensive, mainly due to the funding of competitions and games. To hold a youth soccer tournament or run a youth soccer league, the teams have to pay for everything involved that makes the event successful; this includes referees, turf prep, concessions stands, etc.

Although it may seem excessive when you are handing over the check every season, that money is going right back to your child’s soccer experience. In most situations, every penny is being used to make the program successful.

Why is Youth Soccer So Expensive?

When you are standing on the side of the field, watching a game, look down at the white sidelines painted on the grass; you helped pay for those to be there. Do you sit in the bleachers? Pat yourself on the back because you helped pay for those too! 

Let’s take a look at some other things your money is going toward every soccer season and how it makes the cost of youth soccer add up. 

Field Prep

The grounds don’t keep themselves. To make a soccer field ready for any game, someone has to come out and prep them.

  • Turf maintenance: To properly maintain a high-end field throughout the year, leagues can pay up to $14,000 for synthetic turf and roughly $10,000 for grass.
  • Soccer nets: Each official regulation-sized soccer goal will cost leagues around $300. Leagues often run games on many fields, so that cost can add up quickly. Factor in costs for net repair and maintenance throughout the season in addition to the costs of the goals themselves — it can get pretty pricey.
  • Flags and lines: Not as expensive as the other items mentioned, but all fields require regulation flags and the solid lines painted on the fields.

Key Players

By “key players,” I’m not referring to the youth soccer team’s players themselves, but the behind-the-scenes help that needs to be paid for their services.

  • Coaches: Granted, many recreational coaches and soccer coaches for elementary-age teams are volunteer parents or teachers, but not all of them are. If you are paying for your child to play with a paid youth soccer coach, they make upwards of $40,000 a year.
  • Referees: Every time you have a referee on the field, it is going to cost money. Most games have two to three refs at a time, each being paid, on average, up to around $50 a game.

Equipment

You may provide your child with a water bottle, shin guards and cleats (see Soccer Equipment Checklist for a full list), but the coach and league/club often provide the rest. Each of these items, even the smallest, really adds up when you are providing for a whole team.

  • Soccer balls: Every game needs a regulation-match game soccer ball. Then you need one soccer ball per child for practices. Sometimes each individual is responsible for their own ball, but some clubs provide team training balls. That would be 18-20 soccer balls for every full-sided team ($15-$20 each).
  • Training equipment: To train for the games, coaches usually have a room full of supplies, from cones to flags and more (average $150 per field).
  • First aid: Soccer is a very physical sport, and injuries can occur. Full body contact leaves many bumps and bruises, and each team has to be prepared. For many leagues, every coach has to be CPR certified and has to attend classes to learn all the proper response techniques for every situation (the prices of which vary).
  • Kits: What is a team without matching kits? Every player needs one, and it includes a shirt, shorts, and socks – perhaps even separate kits for “home” and “away” games. On average, these uniforms can cost around $80 to $100 per child, and maybe a bit more if they are personalized.
Soccer referees preparing for game

The “Other Stuff”

The absolute essentials discussed above can be a large budget to handle, but there are other costs involved in holding a sporting event.  You also need a lot of extras to keep the spectators happy.

  • Bleachers: One average set of bleachers can cost around $1,000. Having a set for both team’s spectators and multiple fields will quickly raise the cost. Granted, you don’t have to buy ten each year, but they will have to be replaced on occasion and maintenance is on-going.
  • Restrooms: If you have an on-field restroom area, all you pay is for cleaning and supplies. However, when hosting large events like competitions that usually last a weekend, you may have to rent portable restrooms that can cost around $175 each for two days. Most events need at least 5-10.

How Do Organizations Off-Set the Cost?

Now that you know how much goes into the soccer programs, you may be asking how the leagues can afford it.  Sure, you pay quite a bit directly for your child, but that only covers part of the cost. 

A city’s parks and recreational department might host a recreational soccer league. They likely get funding through taxes and usage fees.  However, there are other ways leagues and individual teams can get help to make sure their year is a success:

  • Fundraisers: Teams can host car washes, bake sales, etc. 
  • Grants: Companies such as Nike, Walmart, and Cabela’s offer grants every year to help fund youth sports.
  • Donations: Local community members and businesses will donate money for sponsorships to keep kids involved in the activity.

Why is Funding Youth Sports Important?

Although the price of keeping your child involved in youth soccer could leave a little dent in your wallet, know that it ultimately pays off in the end. 

Sports are known for helping children in many ways. It gives them confidence, social interaction, exercise, and so much more. Going to practice after school can keep kids focused and on track for a better future. 

Benefits Kids’ Education

Studies have shown kids who participate in school sports are more likely to have better grades, higher test scores, and higher educational expectations when they leave high school. This is why it is so important to find ways to keep these programs funded.

Gives Kids Confidence and Responsibility

Sports will help your child learn how to communicate with adults and peers better. It also forces them to be responsible, self-sufficient, and practice better time management. Playing soccer as a team will help your child feel confident with social interaction; and players are known to maintain long friendships with their teammates throughout their lives.

Promotes Healthy Mental and Physical Health 

Practicing a sport not only gives children the exercise they need to be healthy inside and out, but it gives them mental strength and stability as well. 

Some children will use sports to get away from bad home life or a challenging social situation; they can confide in other team members or coaches. Having a person they can trust or count on will make a massive difference in how they handle their situations. It can also help them successfully get through the obstacles they cannot avoid.

Final Thoughts

Youth soccer is so expensive because of all the hard work that goes into making sure your child is getting the best experience possible. The little things add up in a very big way, and these little things are just as important as the rest. 

So, the next time you are cheering your child’s first hat-trick or jumping for joy at the great block by the goalie, remember, it wouldn’t be possible without your financial support.

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