Let the game come to you

My son scored a goal at his last soccer game. I’m not sure how it happened, and neither is he, but we’ll take it.

You know that kid who dribbles the ball down the length of the field, trailing behind a comet tail of slower children, and boots in five goals per game? My boy is the one at the very back of the following pack, jogging along to see what all the hubbub is at the front.

soccer star

You know those athletes who fail because they try to do too much? He’s not falling into that trap.

He’s not a natural athlete, but that doesn’t bother his enjoyment of the game. Soccer isn’t so much a sport as a social activity to him anyway. He’s the kid who peels off from the action of his own game to wave down his friend who is playing on the adjacent field.

The propensity to get distracted from the game is not uncommon among kindergarteners. This is a good and natural thing. It also has the potential to be comical. During the last game, a child climbed up into a pine tree bordering the field and called the names of players. The players took turns ignoring the action to squint into the tree and try to identify the climber until adults ruined the fun by making him come down.

soccer distractions

“I think that tree just called my name.”

When it comes to style of play, my son is not a dribbler. He is not often very near the ball anyway, but when happenstance does nudge the ball close to him, he is likely to give it a good boot and let the other children chase it down. I am proud to say he almost always kicks it in the right direction.

I am thankful that I wasn’t trying to see the kid up in the tree during that glorious moment when my little superstar tallied his spectacular goal.

Somehow, his team had maneuvered the ball onto the offensive side of the field, which is rare enough in itself. My boy had very cleverly positioned himself on the periphery of the mob,  letting the other children endanger their shins. This wise strategy was bound to pay off eventually.

*Begin slow motion narration*

With six kids kicking it at once, the ball squirted randomly out of the crowd and rolled to my boy’s feet. Finding himself temporarily unable to locate any friends in nearby games, he happened to be watching his own game at that moment.

The ball was at his feet. It was time to give it his one good boot. Turing himself in the proper direction (his best soccer skill), he found himself staring into the empty goal.

He cocked his leg. The other children were almost upon him.

Just in time, my little sniper unleashed his mighty shoe and sent the ball rolling with pinpoint accuracy over those 10 feet and into the goal.

*Resume normal speed narration*

His teammates bounced around him as he launched the celebration. It was a moment of immense pride for me. The boy may not be a natural athlete, but he sure can dance.

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19 comments on “Let the game come to you

  1. Lynn says:

    So funny! Our daughter tried soccer many, many year ago. She used to dance & hop around the ball if it came anyway near her. I am not certain she ever made contact! Thanks for the memory:)

  2. tom w says:

    If I live to be 100, and I’m getting close, I will never understand soccer. I know even less about rugby and curling.

  3. Love it. And at least he looks the part in his uniform. That counts for about half of it.

  4. xtrememom says:

    Great story. I miss those days with a passion. Hold onto this fun precious era with two hands.

  5. Kiss those weekends goodbye. Wait until all the boys are playing (it is a law that all children must play soccer) and then you will wish for the days of diaper changing.

  6. pieterk515 says:

    I LOVE your stories, man!!

    Son scored a try two weeks ago. In rugby that is. And it was his first (and only) one of the season. I almost cried. OK, I actually did. Just a little.

    But no-one can blame me for a father’s pride must be one of THE most amazing feelings, in like ever!

  7. Traci says:

    I remember my cousin who used to spend his yelling energy on the baseball sidelines, trying to convince his kid to get up off the field and use his mitt for something besides a pillow. Who knew you could catch with those things?

  8. A. van Nerel says:

    This takes me back to the late 1980′s and early 1990′s, when I played soccer. Suffice it to say, my athletic superpowers were on par with that of your son it seems, as was the amount of fun I had doing it. I personally find watching a game of soccer more amusing when the players are little kids. It’s very comical and the game is viewed as just that: a game. They should pick up on that in Brazil the following weeks (World Soccer Championship is taking place there, which is kind of a big thing for people here in the Netherlands;))

    • Soccer is not a big sport here in the US. Oddly, it is the first sport most kids play. I think that is because there is not much necessary equipment and they can still have fun without knowing the details of the rules. And I am all for sports for which I don’t have to go broke buying equipment.

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