I know for a fact there are many readers of this blog who know the way I feel about my boys’ soccer seasons this summer.
This actual topic came up Friday night at our tot-shabbat dinner / service between myself and our Rabbi, right after I tried to convince her that it was okay to text / surf the net during the high-holidays because when the Torah was written there was no texting. The Rabbi asked him how soccer was going, was he having fun… when my son said, “Yes, soccer is FUN.”
Oh, yes he did.
I’m shaking my head…
But for those of you who do not know what happened, here it is in a nutshell. My boys, 5 and 3 (close to 6 and VERY close to 4) play North Toronto Soccer and I am the coach of both teams. My younger boy had no interest in soccer for most of the season, yet he would get VERY frustrated if he could not touch the ball – so much so that he once chased down a teammate and yanked him to the ground, from behind, by the cuff of his shirt then stood over him crying. However, after spending the season running behind the play or kicking the ball in his own net, I saw some progress. Towards the end of his season he actually tried dribbling with the ball during their games and had less hesitation going into traffic to get the ball. In his last game, he took the ball off the opposition by running beside her, matching her stride for stride, then slipped in front of her and took the ball. He then took it all the way to the opposition net before his teammate took it off him and kick it in for a goal. His response to me was, “almost!”. Nice.
My oldest boy, on the other hand, has less than ZERO interest in the game and often times would be caught far away from the action during the games picking weeds, playing with sticks, or watching the other games. He was there because he had to be and the fact that there was a game going on was a mere coincidence. His teammates, knowing this, would try to pass to him so he could score – or even just kick the ball, yet passes would roll in front of him without him even noticing. He hated soccer games. He liked to practice and be with his teammates, but as for the games… No way.
Coaching went something like this… On Monday nights I would yell at the 3 and 4 year old’s to help them learn to play by the rules; “there are no hands in soccer” or “take your hands out of your pockets”, “stop ripping out the grass”, “get off your teammate”, or “keep the ball inbounds”. By Tuesday night, my hoarse voice would get done in as I would yet to (at) Linus; “go kick the ball”, “run!!!”, “who are you covering?”, “run, run, run” or the ever famous, “Linus! I bought you cleats so you could run and kick the ball… please… you’re killing me… Just kick the ball”
Anyways, after a LONG season, this Saturday was the finalsday for both boys teams.
Stewie’s team – Brazil – was short half the team, so only 4 of the 8 kids showed up, which meant we had 2 teams of 2 kids and we played the other team, Argentina, who had 7 of their 8 kids there. The 4 on 2 team had our best 4-year-old and he dominated. We won that side but my 2 guys, Stewie being one of them had to overcome some crafty cheating by the Argentine coaches to keep the win.
We were up 3-0 when the ball went behind the Argentine net and instead of letting all six kids eventually kick it around the net back into the play, the Argentine coach picked up the ball and tossed it to right in front of our net. Needless to say that scored. The Argentine’s managed to pull this off 2 more times before I kept sending the ball back to their net for my kids to score. We won that game 7-4.
The next round saw my team Brazil have t play 2 on 4 on both sides, yet we still managed to win both of those games. With my side down 3-0, I switched over my best kid to my other Brazil coach whose squad was destroying the little Spaniards and our kid quickly scored 5 goals for a 6-3 win.
With a playoff sweep in the books the kids then got their medal, team picture, pizza, water and a giant, really cool, soccer ball cookie.
I realized in the 2 on 4 scenario, that Stewie was getting better and better and at still 3-years-old he held his own and even scored a few goals. I might have a player in him after all…
… But then there was Linus…
His team won their first game via comeback 7-5 over Mexico but lost 3-1 in their final to Spain.
Linus was invisible. He usually walked behind the play, sometimes jogged, but never made any attempt to kick or block the ball. His teammates wanted him to kick it and score so they kept passing to him, but he wouldn’t move and the ball would roll past. Not once all season did he want to be first to the ball, nor did he want to get into a scrum to kick the ball out. He doesn’t like to dribble, won’t practice at home and has never talked of scoring a goal…
But at the end of his game, his season, and probably his soccer career, he too got his cookie, pizza, medal, picture and water and he was pleased with himself. He made it. I think his happiest moment was having his medal put on his neck by City Councillor Karen Stintz – we go way back – and he remembered her. Plus with his top 2 teeth missing he’s really freeking cute!
I’m glad this ordeal is over. Makes me want to consider ice skating again…
Week in, week out, I yelled and yelled until I has no voice. I used a white board and diagramed plays. I talked calmly, I spoke strategically but none of it worked. Parents laughed, Linus smiled.
It was almost as though during the games he didn’t know what to do…
So I am SO relieved it is over. I gave him a big hug and congratulations for sticking with this program (he wanted to play soccer!!!) even though he hated it. So then he tells me that he may want to play next year… Yikes. I won’t be coaching.
I’m a certified Canadian sports coach but dealing with your kids is different…
But now both kids put their team pictures on the fireplace for me to see and curse daily. Oddly enough, even though Linus said how much he hated soccer, when asked a school what his favourite 3 numbers are – the 3rd number he chose was his soccer number, #8.
Kids… I just don’t get them.