WHY PLAY SOCCER?

Soccer is a game with no requirements for size, age or sex. Anyone can play, from the 2-year-old with his or her first ball to the 60-year-old grandmother.

The game in its simplest form can be played in the street, backyard, empty lot or field. No special equipment is needed; just a ball. It's a game of continuous action, developing fitness, coordination and skill with the ball. It touches the imagiation, calls for teamwork as well as individual creativity. It is truly a sport for the young at heart.

One of the reasons for the tremendous growth of the game is this country is the appeal of participation. Most children and adults, if they wish, can kick a soccer ball. Learning how to kick it, and where, can be a great deal of fun. LEARNING

It's doubtful the great Pele read a soccer book, or clipped a soccer column to his wall before playing the game for the first time. He, and the other former and current stars of the game, began by kicking a ball or something. They learned the game from themselves. It was their game to learn.

Only in the last decade has soccer become an American game to learn. And learn we have . . . and how much better we have become. But the desire to learn, teach and play continues to grow. Over the next few months we hope to help players, coaches and parents through these columns by offering tips on everything from your basic first kick to learning the rules to team tactics. And, if we've missed something you're interested in, tell us. LET'S GO

Take a ball outside and drop it onto the instep part of the foot and gently kick it back into your hands. Once you get a good feel for this, try kicking it just about head height. Don't catch it; let it bounce on the ground and kick it again. As you build up confidence, try juggling the ball with one foot, without letting the ball hit the ground. As you improve, try including other parts of the body: head, thighs, your other foot. Most importantly, juggling helps to get a real feel for the ball.