Sunday Gratitude: Third Grade Soccer

Yesterday one of the owlets returned to reffing the in-town BAYS soccer games. I have talked about it before on the Owl–it’s a great way for older kids to have an appreciation for the referees in their own games, to give back to the sport, and to remember when it’s pretty much a fun time on a grassy field–not preparation for something else.

Sadly, soccer gets serious as they get older. All of a sudden, somewhere around 12 or 13, the team they make matters. There are transfers like in the professional leagues as kids ping from club to club looking for a better chance of making Division 1 or the nationals or playing for a known coach. The parents find themselves worried about ECNL, NPL, Surf, Bolts, NEFC and Juventus. The kids worry about what number they get, what brand shirt or cleats they wear…and so it goes. There are overuse injuries and physical therapy. Sometimes the fun gets lost.

Yesterday, a clear and beautiful late summer day reminded me of where it all started and why. It’s the joy of the third grade player–in this case it was the Weston Caracals, playing the Foxboro Warriors. For two 30-minute halves, these girls in pigtails ran up and down Alphabet Field, sometimes stopping for a chat on the goal line, sometimes forgetting how to take a corner kick. Parents on the sideline chatted in the sun or shade, occasionally calling out encouragement. The game was mesmerizing and smile-inducing.

Break in the action? Defense has a chat

Here is what these girls reminded me, and for which I express my Sunday gratitude:

  1. Have a game plan but if doesn’t work, stun the opposing team with unlikely plays. Yes, some of those were accidental plays, but they worked.
  2. If everyone goes for the ball in a giant clump, no one can break free. Being outside the group often works out in the end.
  3. Cheer for each other. Say “good job”. Even to the competition.
  4. Respect authority and learn from them. The next time will be better.
  5. If you hurt someone, say sorry. Say it twice. Maybe your whole team will say it too. Every time. Ask “are you okay”? at least 3 times.
  6. Accept apologies. Get up and run again.
  7. If it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it again. It doesn’t matter if it takes 100 kicks to get down a field. What’s the hurry?
  8. If possible, bring your dog with you.
  9. It doesn’t matter what you wear. Uniform didn’t arrive? Paint a number on a t-shirt and just play ball. If pink everything makes you happy, wear it.
  10. Enjoy every minute.

My Sunday gratitude: the third grade girls soccer team and their joy. Thanks for sharing it.

No uniform? Paint a number on a shirt and let’s go.

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