Soccer and cycling in York

Every Saturday morning, Daniel plays soccer. He is 6 years old, mildly autistic and has Tourette’s syndrome. We have tried many extra-curricular activities for him before, including soccer, but he never enjoyed any of them. But he loves the soccer coaching in York because it’s run by the mother of someone in Daniel’s class who wanted something non-competitive but fun for her daughter. So she went out and bought some soccer equipment, found a patch of field in York, trawled the web for how to coach soccer to under 8s and told a few friends about it. Now there’s a lovely group of parents who each Saturday assemble on the field with eager children. The children get to play soccer in a fun and inclusive atmosphere while the parents get to socialise. It is also completely free. This is community engagement at its best.

It is autumn now and York is looking beautiful in shades of orange, yellow and red. I love this time of year.

IMG_3535 IMG_3530

I have recently started photographing the interesting bicycles I see around the city and there are lots of them. I’m a little hesitant to photograph someone cycling on their bike as they might not like me to, so all of my photos are of parked bikes minus owners. There are quite a few bicycles around for transporting children:



This one has a baby capsule on board
Here’s our bicycle, Busby.

33 Replies to “Soccer and cycling in York”

  1. “something non-competitive but fun”
    Well, who ever heard of such a silly idea!!! lol
    What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. I liked the first picture with just a hint of rain on the walkway.

    1. Exactly, such a silly idea! 😉 Not everyone is good at sport, but they still like to participate in it. Daniel is one of them.

  2. Ah, I love to see bikes round a city. So much more harmonious than cars for some reason. Have you been to Amsterdam? They have some great kid-carrying bike contraptions there!

    1. I have a Dutch bicycle but I’ve never been to Amsterdam. One day I hope to go. I also love the sight of bicycles around the place. There’s something beautiful about them.

  3. How great for your son to have something like this to enjoy participating in. I didn’t realise until reading this that he was mildly autistic and also has Tourette’s.

    1. Most people don’t notice the autism as it’s very mild. The Tourette’s is more noticeable though and often involves vocal tics. I’m worried he’ll become one of those sufferers who shouts obscenities at strangers in the street because he has done this a couple of times already. Only he doesn’t know any naughty words (although this isn’t because I’m careful with my own language so I’m not sure why) so instead he shouts out words like “idiot”. Most children with Tourette’s grow out of it when they are teenagers though so hopefully he’ll be one of them.

      1. Oh I do hope the Tourette’s settles down. I do feel for you and him.

        A woman with a child trailer ran into my car yesterday! She was on a cycle path that runs alongside the main road and neglected to stop at the side road which I was coming down.

      2. Yes, side roads that intersect cycle paths are a hazard too. Was she and child ok? How about your car?

  4. I am focused on the bike pictures Rachel. I only wish this country would wake up and do something more like this. They just recently passed a new law in the city whee I live that bikes can now ride on any city street and all cars must give them 4 ft of clearance to the side. I think this is at least a positive step forward but the majority of the car drivers are complaining about it all the time. It has caused a lot of accidents but its only because motorist aren’t used to it yet.

    1. That is a very positive step Bob and I hope it goes some way to making the roads safer for bicycles.

      1. I’m really glad to hear about this Bob. Must be difficult to police, but at least the thought is there – it’s just as much about changing motorists’ attitudes as special lanes etc. Of course the best system is separate lanes, such as they have in the Netherlands, but it would be impossible to implement that from scratch in most places. The UK has its own supposed network of blue lanes, but which share the same roads as cars often.

  5. Busby looks flash :). When back, we’ll have a soccer picnic arvo
    ;), I can already think of 5-8 keen little boys/girls and mums who like to socialise; I’m proposing you as a coach 😉 – good?

    1. I am already planning this Maya! I have been trying to pay attention to the games here so that I can do this in Auckland but I keep getting distracted by interesting conversation. Thank goodness there are still plenty of Saturdays left for me to learn how to do it.

  6. Looking at all those bikes, Rachel, reminded me that at some stage one’s children will outgrow the “bin” at the front. Have you considered teaching them to cycle in York while there are so many dedicated and safe cycling paths about? Do you find your bike heavy at all? What about turning, is that difficult with two inert bodies in front?

    1. We have tried teaching Daniel how to ride a bike and he sort-of can already. We even have a bike for him here which friends have given us to use. But he hates cycling, he’s not very good and has trouble starting off. Whenever we suggest going for a bike ride with him on his own bike there are howls of protest. We have to force him to ride up and down our back alley and it almost always ends in tears. He’s just not like regular children. He’s the only kid at soccer who just does not understand which way to kick the ball.

      My bike is heavy to hold when I’m standing next to it but once seated and cycling, it’s very smooth and easy to balance and manoeuvre. Turning is easy too but does require a bit more thought than a regular bike as the front wheel is further from the handle bars.

      1. He’ll have to wait for Elizabeth who’ll no doubt lead the way. They both seem to have such long legs and arms and give the impression in the photos that they could easily be pushing themselves around.

  7. As a resident of this green and pleasant land, I have to point out that the game is called “football”. The term “s****r” has been known to cause much apoplexy amongst the English.

    1. Thanks, Anivegmin. I am aware of this but to me, football can mean a few other things like rugby, AFL or league. I feel that soccer defines it more accurately but perhaps the locals will correct me at some stage.

      1. It’s only semantic nonsense. I think Soccer was originally an English colloquialism but not much used. The English have always called the game, that mainly involves kicking the “ball” with one’s “foot”, Football. As has the rest of Europe, Asia, Africa, in fact most of the world. It was the USA who adopted, and popularised further afield (The Antipodes, South Africa), the word Soccer to distinguish Football from American Football (which as far as I can tell mainly involves carrying the ball with one’s hands, as does Rugby). So I think some of the animosity here to the term Soccer is to do with a perceived Americanisation of what we would like to believe (mistakenly perhaps) is our game, not theirs.

      2. I have to agree that I’ve always found it odd that a game which seems to involve mostly running around and holding a ball should be called football. There seem to be so many different variations of this game and I can’t actually tell the difference. The only one I can easily pick is soccer and that’s probably more to do with the appearance of the ball than anything else.

      3. Haha yeah they don’t even use a proper ball in Rugby. They should call it an ovoid to avoid any confusion.

  8. Love the photo’s Rach! Autumn is just stunning in the UK 🙂 ‘Bright’ in Victoria is the only place I know of in Australia that comes close.

    I agree with dropscone, you really must visit Amsterdam! It is a bike-lovers Mecca!


    1. Amsterdam and Copenhagen would have to be on my must-see lists as places good for cycling. I have to say though that I am very fond of the UK and am more than happy to spend my time sight-seeing here. There’s so much still to see.

  9. A benign mode of transport that Britain popularised if not pioneered in the late 18th and 19th centuries is water craft on canals. A canal is more expensive to develop and maintain than a cycle path, but there is still a residual network in much of the UK. You may not be able to travel by horse-drawn barge anymore but I believe that there are river boats that can be hired for a trouble-free and leisurely journey. Of course if one’s small children have a propensity to fall over the side, they should first be taught how to swim.

    Is this something you should explore?

    1. There are plenty of boats for hire on the River Ouse in York and there are even a fair few house boats which look very enticing. The only problem is that our kids don’t swim so this is something we will do when they’re older.

  10. What a lovely, resourceful mum organising the soccer (football) group. So pleased Daniel and the other kids can have fun — and the parents too! Was interested in seeing the bike photos and have contributed one of my own. My friend, Peter, told me about it yesterday. Another one to add to your collection! 🙂

    1. Ha, ha, love the toilet bike. I showed it to Daniel and his response was, “Where does all the poo and wee go?”. Good question.

      1. Excellent question. Really, the toilet bike inventor should have used a composting toilet. A great time-saver.

  11. What awesome bikes! Is it hard to steer and balance with the wheels so far apart?

    1. No, it’s very easy to steer and balance. Surprisingly so. Someone in the local bike shop told me that having the wheels further apart like that actually makes it more steady.

  12. Awesome bike, and gorgeous pictures, I was reading and looking, and thinking how fantastic it is that you are so happy…until the last paragraph.

    A good article here in Australia today. I think the monty python reference particularly poignant. Please, please stop bringing up the helmet/no helmet debate, I am very glad everyone is OK after a tip over, but do your day to day travels with as much safety as possible and show your kids a good example. Again, start arguing about the real issues that make the choice to cycle not as easy or popular as it could be. Are you just using this as an outlet for your anti-Auckland feelings? Would Auckland be a better place without helmets? Seriously Rachel, I thought you were more open minded. You are petrified of the earth-quaking, however your brain (or your kids) rattling around in your/their skull isn’t at all scary?

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