Community, Confidence, Leadership & More: Benefits of Team Sports For Kids

Iowa City Moms is thrilled to be partnering with Future For Football to help spread the word about the many, many benefits of youth football programs for your families. As you may have seen, we recently posted our Top Ten Tips for the New Football Mom. Also, for those of you who follow us over on Instagram, we hope you enjoyed our reel featuring both the benefits of youth football AND a quick look at our local options for programs.

In addition to all of those awesome resources, we were very excited to sit down with a familiar face to chat about his personal experience with football: former Hawkeye wide receiver, Matt VandeBerg!

Matt was a great source to chat with about the benefits of youth football programs, because he has now seen those benefits from both sides–as a 4th grader beginning his career, and now as a coach and trainer/mentor himself.  Check out some of his reflections on all of the positive effects that football has had on him and his family.


As y’all know, our number one goal over here at Iowa City Moms has always been, and will always be, community.  Matt recalls that, in addition to bonding on the field during practice and games, many of the families from his childhood teams would gather together for meals and special celebrations as well. Those shared meals hold many happy memories for him, and that community was also a great introduction to Matt and his teammates to the benefit of building relationships and supporting one another in parenting and the challenges that come along with it.


No matter the game, or the level at which they play it, I think any athlete will tell you that their confidence has grown as a result of being part of a team. Matt is no exception to this, as he shared how playing football and other sports helped him to feel more confident both on the field and off, helping him to make it to the college level and beyond, and built that foundation for his work in real estate as well.


One of my favorite parts of the conversation was Matt relating an experience with the players that he currently coaches. He asked the group if they would consider themselves a leader, and many of them responded “no”.  When asked why not, their responses were “because I’m not a starter, I’m not the captain, etc”. He followed up by asking “if you are out on the field running a route, are people watching you? If yes, then you are, and can be, a leader.” Such a valuable lesson for all of us to remember. If there’s any chance that someone might be watching what you’re doing (and 99% of the time there is), then you are in a position to be a leader for them–and you need to know what to do with that position. I immediately took that home to my teenage boys, reminding them that they don’t have to have a title or an official position of leadership to be a leader among their friends and teammates.

Special thank you to Matt VandeBerg for sharing his football memories and lessons learned with us. It’s so great to hear from someone who has experienced the sport from all angles, and will likely be a football dad himself soon, too. We hope this helps you feel more comfortable and confident about your decision to start your boys and girls in a team sport.

Looking for a football program for your kids in our area? Visit to find a league near us and for other helpful resources for football families in our community. 




Sara and her husband Matt (sweethearts since they were just 16) got married in 2007, and since then have welcomed four beautiful children (Sam in 2008, Cooper in 2010, Nora in 2012, and Adam James in December 2015). A born-and-raised Iowan, Sara received both her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (in Spanish Literature) from the University of Iowa. She's still teaching Spanish wherever and whenever she can, but her true passion is owning Iowa City Moms and building this community alongside her amazing team. Sara is also the Community Engagement Coordinator for City Mom Collective, and the owner of Cowork Collective downtown Iowa City. Common denominator in all of these jobs: community, community, community.


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