A Parent’s Guide to MEYSO

Safety First

Safety First is a programme designed to address a growing need for child and volunteer protection.

Child Protection

There are four elements in the Safety First intervention cycle. These are intended to stop child abuse and its agents before they get into the program.

• Create Policies

• Screen Volunteers

• Train Volunteers

• Promote Education and Awareness

Volunteer Protection Act of 1997

This law grants immunity from certain types of prosecution for volunteers who meet its requirements. In order to receive full protection under the law, MEYSO volunteers need three things. They must be properly trained and certified. They must be performing duties as laid out in a
position description. They must act within the scope of MEYSO’s Policies,

Procedures and Guidelines

MEYSO Certification MEYSO’s goal is to provide certification training for all its volunteers. Certification offers the hope that every MEYSO child will be treated with understanding, compassion and respect.

Fun! What it’s All About

The national media has focused on the negative, even violent, behavior of players, coaches and parents involved in youth sports. As part of MEYSO’s education agenda, Kids Zone is a dynamic programme targeted to eliminate negative sideline behavior. It is aimed toward producing a thoroughly positive impact on everyone involved in youth soccer.

Play It Safe

Safety is a big part of keeping things fun. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

• Buddies Advise your child never to leave a practice or game alone. Walk with a buddy whenever possible.

• Goal Posts NEVER let your children play on soccer goals. Portable goals have been known to tip over when people play on them, resulting in serious injury and even death.

• Code Word If you normally pick your child up from the field, but have to send someone else, use a code word. That way, if someone comes up and says “Your mother sent me to pick you up,” but they don’t have the code word you and your child have established, your child knows not to go with the stranger.

Codes of Conduct

Be a Good Sport

MEYSO has always encouraged good sportsmanship in its programmes. In fact, “Good Sportsmanship” is one of the six philosophies listed in the MEYSO National Bylaws. MEYSO strongly recommends that its individual Regions promote good sportsmanship through dynamic programmes.

Elements of these programmes may vary from Region to Region, but all define the conduct of players, coaches, referees and even parents. They explain the fundamentals of good behavior–which is simply showing courtesy and respect for all involved in the game.

We figure that if players, volunteers and parents understand what is expected of them when it comes to good sportsmanship, that’s probably how they will act. MEYSO is proud of its many good sports, but understands that good sportsmanship doesn’t just happen. It needs to be taught, encouraged and demonstrated.


Play for the fun of it, not just to please your parents or coach. Play by the Laws of the Game. Never argue with or complain about referees’ calls or decisions. Control your temper. Most of all resist the temptation to retaliate when you feel you have been wronged. Concentrate on playing soccer with your best efforts. Work equally hard for your team as for yourself. Be a good sport by cheering all good plays, whether it is your team’s or your opponent’s. Treat all players as you would like to be treated. Remember that the goals of the game are to have fun, improve skills and feel good. Don’t be a showoff or a ball hog. Cooperate with your coaches, teammates, opponents and the referees.


• Always remember that the game is for the players. Player safety and fair play come first.

• Study and learn the Laws of the Game and understand the “spirit” of the Laws. Help fellow referees do the same.

• Encourage and enforce the MEYSO philosophies of Everybody Plays, Positive Coaching and Good Sportsmanship.

• Respect other referees’ decisions, and do not publicly criticize another official. • Wear the proper uniform and keep it in good condition.

• Maintain good physical condition so you can keep up with the action.

• Stay calm when confronted with emotional reactions from players, coaches and parents.

• Honor accepted game assignments. In an emergency, find a re-placement.

• Support good sportsmanship with a kind word to players, coaches and parents of both teams when deserved.

• Always be fair and impartial, avoiding conflicts of interest. Decisions based on personal bias are dishonest and unacceptable.


Your role in MEYSO
as a parent, you have a special role in contributing to the needs and development of these youngsters. Through your encouragement and good example, you can help assure the effectiveness of the MEYSO programme.

Support Your Child

Support your child by giving encouragement and showing an interest in his or her team. Help your child work toward skill improvement and good sportsman- ship in every game. Teach your child that hard work and an honest effort are often more important than victory. Your child will be a winner, even in defeat.

Always Be Positive

Parents are not participants on their child’s team. However, they do contribute to the success experienced by their child and the team. Parents serve as role models for their children. Applaud good plays by your child’s team and by the opposing team. Support all efforts to remove verbal and physical abuse from youth sporting activities.

Be Enthusiastic and Supportive

Let children set their own goals and play the game for themselves. Be careful not to impose your own standards and goals on your child. Don’t put too heavy a burden on your child to win games. Surveys reveal that 72 percent of children would rather play for a losing team than ride the bench for a winner.

Reinforce Positive Behavior

The best way to help a child to achieve goals and reduce the natural fear of failure is through positive reinforcement. No one likes to make a mistake. If your child does make one, remember that he or she is still learning. Encourage your child’s efforts and point out the good things your child accomplished.

Let Coaches Coach and Refs Ref

Coaches and referees are usually parents. They volunteer their time to help make your child’s youth soccer experience a positive one. They need your support
too. What coaches and referees don’t need is your help in coaching from the sidelines. So please refrain from coaching during games and practices. Referees are not the “bad guys.” They are volunteers too, and need your support and encouragement. Treat them and their calls fairly and respectfully.

Enthusiastically support and practice the Everybody Plays, Good Sportsmanship, Positive Coaching and Player Development philosophies of MEYSO. Be reasonable in your demands on a young player’s time, energy, enthusiasm and performance on the soccer field.

Impress on your players that they must abide by the Laws of the Game at all times. Develop team respect for the ability of opponents, and for the judgment of referees and opposing coaches.

Ensure that your players’ soccer experience is one of fun and enjoyment (winning is only part of it). Players should never be yelled at or ridiculed for making mistakes or losing a game. Set a good example and be generous with your praise when it is deserved. Children need a coach they can respect.

Keep informed of sound principles of coaching, growth and child development. Check your equipment and playing facilities. They should meet safety standards and be appropriate for the age and ability of your players.

Seek the advice of a physician when determining when an injured child is ready to play again.

MEYSO is very privileged to have such amazing parents.  This is a major contributor to why it works!



There are two kinds of misconduct: (1) when an action results in a caution (yellow card) from the referee, and (2) when an action results in a player being sent off or ejected from the field (red card). A referee may also warn a player to improve his or her conduct (or unsporting behavior) before a caution is issued.

The referee also has the authority to suspend or terminate play because of field conditions or due to misconduct or interference on the part of coaches or spectators.

The Field

The field is divided in two halves. The center circle in the middle of the field is used to start the game, to start the second half and to restart after a goal has been scored.

There is a large rectangular area and a smaller rectangular area found at each end of the field. These are vital areas for both teams, and are where penalty kicks are taken.

The Fouls

Major Fouls There are 10 major fouls that result in a direct free kick (DFK), and from which a goal may be directly scored against the opponents.

The 10 fouls are divided into two groups. Seven within the first group require that the foul be committed carelessly, recklessly or using excessive force:

Kicking or attempting to kick an opponent.

Striking or attempting to strike an opponent.

Pushing an opponent.

Charging an opponent.

Tripping or attempting to trip an opponent.

Jumping at an opponent.

Tackling an opponent and making contact with the
opponent before the ball.

The other three fouls require only that they be committed:

• Spitting at an opponent.

• Holding an opponent.

• Handling the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeepers within their own penalty areas).

Minor Fouls

There are eight minor fouls that result in an indirect free kick (IFK). At least one additional player of either team must touch the ball before a goal can be scored from an IFK.

• Playing in a Dangerous Manner Including kicking at a ball that is near another player’s head or trying to play a ball held by a goalkeeper.

• Impeding the Progress of an Opponent Getting between an opponent and the ball when not playing the ball.

• Preventing the Goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his/her hands.

• Commits any other offense, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player.

Goalkeeper Offenses

An IFK is also awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, within his/her own penalty area, commits any of the following four offenses.

While controlling the ball with the hands, takes more than six seconds before putting the ball back into play.

Touches the ball again with his hands after it has been released from his possession and before it has touched another player.

Touches the ball with the hands when the ball is deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a teammate.

Touches the ball with the hands after receiving it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate.

The Laws (rules)

The Laws (rules)

There are 17 rules in soccer, called “The Laws of the Game,” and they are easy to understand. Their purpose is to make the game fun, safe and fair. The object of the game is for the players to get the ball into their opponent’s goal using any part of their body except hands and arms. Only goalkeepers may use their hands, but only while inside their own penalty area.

Generally, the Laws require that referees stop the game only when something has happened which they decide is unfair or unsafe. Important elements of the Law to be familiar with include ball in and out of play, fouls, misconduct and offside.


To start the game or the second half, and after each goal, a kickoff is taken from the center circle. This is done in a fun and quick way up until Under 11 soccer, whereby two opposing players squeeze the ball back-to-back. On the referees whistle, the players turn around and try and get possession for their team.


After the ball has completely crossed the side boundary lines, called touchlines, a throw-in is awarded against the team that last touched the ball. The throw-in is taken from where the ball left the field and must be thrown with two hands from behind and over the head, while both feet are on the ground on or behind the touchline.

Goal Kick

The goal kick is taken by the defending team if the ball crosses the goal line without a goal being scored and was last touched by an attacking player. The ball may be placed anywhere in the goal area and is not considered back in play until it has been kicked out of the penalty area. Every league Under 11 years must retreat into their own half when a goal kick is performed.

Corner Kick

This kick is taken by the attacking team if the ball is kicked by the defence over its own goal line without a goal being scored. The ball is placed within the three-foot arc in the corner of the field (nearest to where the ball went out of play) and kicked into play by the attacking team.

Penalty Kick

A penalty kick is awarded when a defending player commits one of the 10 major fouls within his or her own penalty area while the ball is still in play. The penalty kick is taken by a player from the offended team from a spot 12 yards from the goal. All players must remain outside the penalty area, 10 yards from the ball, and behind the penalty kick mark until the kick is taken, except for the kicker and the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper must remain on the goal line until the ball is kicked. Once kicked, the goalkeeper may try to stop the ball from entering the goal. The kicker, after waiting for the referee’s signal, may score by kicking the ball directly into the opponent’s goal.

The Officials

The Officials

MEYSO recommends the use of three game officials–one referee and two assistant referees (not always necessary).

The referee is the ultimate authority during the game. The referee’s chief responsibilities are to make the game as fun, fair and safe for the players as possible. The referee enforces the rules, which, in soccer, are called “Laws”–by calling fouls (offenses) and determining if goals have been scored.

Assistant referees provide vital assistance to the referee by signaling when the ball has gone out of play and which team gets possession. Assistant referees also assist with substitutions and the general control of the game.


What Players need Soccer has limited equipment requirements. However, most MEYSO teams play in uniforms (shirt, shorts and socks) supplied by an international supplier. Shinguards are mandatory during practice and games. Shoes are required, and it is advisable to use shoes designed specifically for soccer. Regions also provide field equipment, such as goals, nets and flags.

The Team

The Team

A team has a maximum of 11 players on the field at any one time, although a game can be played with far less players on a team. MEYSO recommends that Regions use short-sided teams in younger age divisions. This will allow for younger players get more “touches” on the ball, learn skills quicker and have more fun.

Each team offers the following positions:

The goalkeeper is responsible for guarding his or her team’s goal and preventing the other team from scoring. Some short-sided teams play without goalkeepers. This is so shooting skills can be developed.

The defender’s primary duty is to prevent the opponent from having a good shot at the goal. This player also works to gain possession of the ball and pass it to a teammate for an attack.

The midfielder plays a “transitional” game from defense to offense and vice versa. Usually, the midfielder is the most active player on the field and key to maintaining team continuity.

The forward’s primary responsibilities are to score and assist the midfield in shifting play from defense to offense. It’s important to keep in mind that any player on a team may score a goal, regardless of position.

By The Book The Game of Soccer

By The Book The Game of Soccer

Soccer is a simple game. It requires a field, a ball, two teams of players and their equipment and a referee.

Soccer is played by two teams on a rectangular field approximately the size of a football field. Smaller fields may be used for younger players. The game is played in two halves of equal length. The length of each half is determined by the age of the children playing.

Soccer Skills

The sport involves several basic skills: passing, shooting, dribbling, turning and controlling the ball.

These skills can be learned at any age, and a dedicated soccer player works continually to improve them.


Passing is playing the ball to a teammate or to a space where a teammate can run to the ball. A player may lightly tap the ball to a teammate several feet away or kick it strongly to move it down the field. The ball may scoot along the ground or may be kicked into the air.

Most players use two types of kicks to pass to a teammate or shoot towards the goal. One is the instep drive which is a powerful kick. The other kick is using the inside of the foot to complete a short-pass. Performed using the inside of the foot, this pass is much more accurate than the instep drive, but is less powerful.


Dribbling is transporting the ball under control from one area to another. Soccer players cannot use their hands. Players dribble the ball with their feet, using light taps on the ball to move it along the ground.


Controlling is receiving the ball in flight or on the ground, and then controlling it by either dribbling or passing the ball to teammates. There are many ways to control a ball:

(1) allow it to hit the chest at an angle that deflects the ball to the ground where it can be controlled;

(2) allow it to hit the thigh with a bent knee to deflect the ball to the ground where it can be controlled; or

(3) use the foot to receive/control the ball.


Heading is unique to the game of soccer. When a ball is too high to kick, players “head” the ball to pass to a teammate or score a goal. Physical size is not an important factor in becoming a skilled and successful soccer player. Because of the game’s pace, every child participates in the action while on the field.

What’s a region?

What’s a region?

Whether you are a veteran MEYSO volunteer or you’re new at this soccer business, you may be wondering just what is this thing called an MEYSO Region and how it works.

Your MEYSO Region is one of our programmes in communities across the Middle East. Each MEYSO Region is the same, yet different.

That means MEYSO Bylaws and Rules & Regulations standardize operational procedures and playing rules. But because community needs and characteristics may be different, Regions have flexibility to satisfy their unique needs. Your Region is identified by its own number. It is managed by parents just like yourself. In fact, you may be one of those dedicated volunteers working to ensure the programme is run effectively and MEYSO philosophies are upheld. An MEYSO representative will usually meet once a month during the season and perhaps more often for pre-season planning. You are welcome to attend any of these meetings.

Many Regions give out a Region Handbook at registration, with their policies fully defined. The Handbook may cover everything from rainy-day procedures, practice routines and important telephone numbers to lost-and-found information. Read it and keep it handy.

Get to know your child’s soccer coach and other parents. Volunteer your time, skills and energies to make your MEYSO Region run well. This way, both your child and you benefit from the MEYSO experience.

Here’s what you can expect from your Region:

A fun soccer experience for your child during games and practices. Coaches and referees who understand the MEYSO philosophies and support them.

Training for coaches, referees and administrators.

Caring volunteers to manage the Region.

A MEYSO representative for support and guidance.

Why MEYSO Works

Why MEYSO Works

MEYSO works because our volunteers work. The volunteers work because they believe in the MEYSO philosophies. Our phenomenal growth underscores MEYSO’s commitment to a healthy competitive atmosphere for youth soccer players, combined with dedication toward the development of responsible individuals. What makes MEYSO Tick

MEYSO was founded on community involvement. Volunteer staff members are encouraged to organise in ways best suited to their needs. The foundation of MEYSO is the community programme. Each Region is headed by a member of who, with the help of a Region Board, conducts business within the framework of MEYSO’s philosophies, Rules & Regulations and Bylaws.

The staff at MEYSO’s headquarters in Festival City, Dubai, works closely with these volunteer members and interfaces directly with each community. MEYSO provides many services: computerised registration; publications; liability and accident insurance; training programmes for coaches, referees and administrators and more.