Age Range: 5 and up
Whether you have a budding athlete in your household or you just want to get everyone to play as a family, having a soccer goal in the backyard is a win-win. The goal shown here has a basic design and is easy to build, so it can be assembled in an afternoon. And chances are good that you have the home field advantage, with the right tools already on hand and the materials easy to get at the home center. Because it's made from PVC pipes and deer netting, this goal is so lightweight and easy to move that you can set it up whenever you're ready to play. Just put it out to turn the backyard into a playing field, and you'll be ready to score!
• Download a cutting diagram for this project
The goal shown here is a three-dimensional triangle made from PVC plumbing pipes wrapped in deer netting. And while the instructions are for a 4-by-5-foot goal, you can adapt the measurements to make your goal any size you want. The best part is that cutting and assembling the sections of pipe are so simple and safe, kids can help out at every step. They'll be amazed at how quickly they can cut through the plastic pipes, and they'll have a ball assembling the 22 different PVC pieces like a giant puzzle. Just be sure a parent supervises the gluing stage, as the short time you have to adjust the pipes before the glue sets means working quickly. Deer netting, a strong but supple mesh, is an inexpensive alternative to a rope net, and it attaches easily to the pipes with common zip ties.
Lay out the pieces
Using a tape measure, divide the four 10-foot lengths of PVC pipe into the sections needed to assemble the frame of the goal, and mark one section of each length for cutting. You will need two 5-foot sections, two 4-foot sections, four 3-foot sections, and four 1-foot sections.
Cut the pipe
Lay a marked-up pipe on a worktable, with your first cut mark hanging off the edge. Cut the pipe at the mark with a hacksaw. Use your first cut piece as a guide for the others—that way they'll all be the same length. Continue until all the pieces are cut. You should be left with one unused 6-foot piece. Using 80-grit sandpaper, smooth out the cut ends of the pipes so that there are no sharp edges or burrs.
Hey, kids! Try out your hacksaw skills. Start with a slow, small stroke on your cut mark to make a little groove. Then, once your blade gains purchase, use long, straight strokes to cut all the way through the pipe.
Dry-fit the frame
Before you apply the glue and assemble the goal permanently, you will need to dry-fit the pieces together. This will ensure that the sections of pipe fit together correctly and the goal is straight and true.
Begin with the base. Make the two corners by attaching a 1-foot section to a 3-foot section, using an elbow. Lay these down facing each other. Put tees on the other ends of the 1-foot sections. Then connect the two tees with a 3-foot section.
To make the top of the goal, repeat the steps above, except attach the 1-foot sections to 4-foot sections at the elbows.
Attach elbows to the short sides of the base, and turn them so that they face upward. Stand the top of the goal up, and insert the bottom of the 4-foot sections into the elbows. You should now have an L-shaped frame.
Finally, connect the top and base tees with 5-foot sections that act as brace pieces.
To parents: Use the side of the goal to teach older kids about right triangles and the Pythagorean theorem: a2 + b2 = c2. The base side is a (3 feet), the vertical side is b (4 feet), and the brace piece is the hypotenuse, or c (5 feet).
Keep track of the connections
Using a permanent marker, draw a line across the adjoining parts at every connection. This will help you line up the pipes once you glue them and put the goal back together perfectly before the PVC cement has a chance to dry.
Glue the frame together
Take apart one of the joints. Wipe PVC pipe cement on the outside of the pipe and the inside of the connector, then fit the two back together. Quickly line up your marks and hold the fittings in place. Pipe cement sets in seconds, so you don't have much time.
Continue to take apart each joint, apply the pipe cement, and put it back together in this manner until the entire frame is glued up.
To parents: PVC pipe cement has a strong odor, so be sure to get one labeled low-VOC, and do this step in a well-ventilated area.
Make the net
Take the soccer goal outside. Unroll the deer netting and measure out enough to cover the back and sides of the goal. Using utility scissors, cut the netting to size, leaving a little extra for overhang.
Attach the net
Wrap the netting around the goal posts, leaving it a little loose so that it catches a soccer ball without tearing. Then feed zip ties through the netting and around the pipes, connecting the ties and pulling them tight. Do this every few inches until all the netting is attached. Using utility scissors, snip off the long ends of the ties, and turn the joints to the back so that they're hard to see.
Hey, kids! Your little hands can be a big help when it comes to threading the ties through the netting. Just be sure to have a parent check that they're connected tightly.
Cut off the excess netting
Using utility scissors, trim off the excess netting around the front and bottom of the goal.
Hold down the goal
If you like, you can use small sandbags in the corners of the goal to hold it down. Then grab some players, start a game, and see how long it takes for you to score your first goal!