Soccer and Me

aaronamyHere they call it Soccer.   In most of the world it is Football or Futbal.  Here it is a relatively minor sport.  In most of the world it is THE sport.  At 36 years old, I knew nothing of the sport except that the athletic fields around our home in Yorba Linda, CA, were filled every Saturday with boys and girls chasing a ball around and parents cheering like it was the Oympics.  Soccer was THE sport for kids and my son wanted to play.   He joined a team coached by the Mom of one of his friends (who played the game) and I agreed to be the assistant coach.  Thus began my my roughly 15 years association with youth soccer.   I would coach my son, Aaron’s team, up until high school and my daughter, Amy’s team until she retired from the game in 6th grade.   I served on the league board and as the President of the high school booster club.  As a coach, I was known to stress sportsmanship over winning, but my teams won a lot, too.  I think I probably took it too seriously and I know I stayed at the fair too long with my son, coaching after he was ready for me to step aside.  That didn’t end well and left me with a bad taste for the game.  A few years later, I took on a girls team without a child of mine on it for two years which rehabilitated my love of Futbol.

MADDUXI bring this up because now I am in Utah and you can find me standing on the sidelines watching my grandson Maddux play Futbol.    Maddux is a natural athlete … he could throw a spiral football pass at three.   Football (the American kind) was his sport of choice but his parents didn’t want him ending up in high school football, so they got him into soccer.    He is on a club team called the Strikers.  He is their goalkeeper, a position he gravitated toward because he is fearless, something I noticed early on taking shots at him in the yard.   Soccer is a team sport.  Except, to some degree, for the keeper.  He stands alone on every shot, every free kick and every corner kick.  Maddux is passionate … he gives himself to every play and he suffers every goal scored against him, even when it was impossible for him to reach.   But he is so good and makes remarkable saves nearly every game.  Perhaps his specialty is tipping high shots over the crossbar, which takes timing and athleticism.  

So at 77, I am again a Soccer fan, (and still a Coach in my head but keeping my mouth shut … in my coaching days it drove me crazy when Dads … and sometimes Moms … would yell instructions to their kids that were contrary to what I had been trying to teach in practice).  But more. I’m Maddux’s biggest fan, a proud Papa watching him play the beautiful game the way it is meant to be played, with passion and all out. 

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