It has been a busy season in our household! Out of six children we have four of them in a sport. The oldest, “Why For”, is in swimming year round and at the moment football, the second in line, “Sporty McGee”, is currently playing football and within the next week he will be starting basketball, the fall season that is, because where we live you can play any sport in any season! Number three, “Butter Bean” and number four, “The Challenger”, are both playing soccer. Soccer…I have come to realize is not just a sport but a lifestyle, at least it is where we live anyway. You know a person would think that this town would be all about football considering we live in a town with a University that has one of the top football programs in the nation, but in the world of parents and children soccer is THE sport here. We are blessed to have a wonderful soccer association that organizes games for over 1400 children every Saturday in the Fall and Spring, and that’s just in the recreational league!
When Butter Bean decided he wanted to play soccer last spring my first thought was “aw man…soccer” and not in the “WAHOO” way but in the “DARN” way! I know I can speak for Snookums on this too, soccer was not our forte. In fact when it comes to sports I am completely inexperienced, I’m learning right along with my children. Snookums on the other hand was Mr. Athleticism while growing up, even now the man doesn’t lose in a competition! So when Butter Bean said “I want to play soccer” I knew we were in for a loooong season of ball watching. Neither myself nor Snookums knew a thing about soccer. But of course like any good little parent I signed him up and payed the small fortune for his name to be thrown in the bowl with about a thousand other kids just to be plucked out by a random stranger. A random stranger that our family would have to be closely involved with several times a week for the next ten weeks, give or take. As you can imagine we were bubbling over with excited anticipation. I was so excited when I finally got the email from Butter Bean’s soccer coach giving us the details of what our lives would consist of the next couple months. When I read the coaches name I discovered our first hurdle…I wasn’t sure how to pronounce his name. Living in a college town for almost a year now I have grown very accustomed to the diversity that this world has to offer. In fact I am in aw of how well this town seems to blend together. That brings me to the point of my story. Different cultures, backgrounds, colors, religions, names… those things do not matter when you have one common goal.
Previously I wrote a post about how we have lost the love of the game. The story was written specifically about baseball but the idea could be applied to any sport. Well I am excited to report that the love has been found, I found it growing and nurturing children on a field composed of little grass, a few stickers and a lot of dirt! This last weekend Butter Bean played his first official game in the Hispanic Soccer League. One thing and possibly the most important, I got out of our first of many games played at this field was how much these children truly loved this sport. Not only children of all ages but their parents too. I’ll be honest I was a little nervous. I was nervous to be taken out of my little box of comfort. My little box where everybody spoke the same language, a language that I understood. My little box where the soccer fields were nicely trimmed and all the jerseys matched. Another lesson I learned from our first game in this league was how boring and small my little box was! Why do we imprison ourselves? We box ourselves in nice and neatly with almost no wiggle room, and by doing this we miss out on so many wonderful experiences. We seem to forget that there is in fact a world out there, and a rather large one to be honest, that doesn’t revolve around us alone!
Let me go back to our last spring season, the season that started our soccer experience. Our random draw for a team couldn’t have worked out better for our little Butter Bean if we had personally selected his coach. He ended up on a team with a coach that moved to the United States on a soccer scholarship from Argentina. Not only does this coach know the game, respect it, and love it but he also has a way of teaching these children how to truly play and enjoy it! I can see that Butter Bean has a God given talent for this sport and God has given him a coach and a team perfect for him. Watching these children play together is nothing short of amazing. They have been taught to play TOGETHER and at this age that is a huge accomplishment. I have seen so many times children playing team sports for themselves. What I mean by this is they are taught to worry about how they look and how they play individually. Our little soccer team has been together since the start of last spring, they got together a few times throughout the summer and kicked the ball around and started back into regular practice times shortly after school started in preparation of the start of the fall season. In that short amount of time they have been taught certain team skills and soccer skills that take some, years to develop. I accredit that to the natural talent all these boys have, their dedicated coach and of course all of us parents that put our time and effort into making sure they are where they need to be when they need to be there.
Our team of eight little boys is made up of four different cultural backgrounds…American, Argentine, Honduran, and Vietnamese. This makes me so happy. One thing Snookums and I want for our children to know is that the world is bigger than they can imagine and it is there ready for them to grab a hold and run with. How can we ever teach them that if we don’t show them what’s out there? People learn best from experiences. I may be the only parent on the team that sees it this way but I believe that our children are learning a lesson far beyond how to kick the ball, they are learning to love each other despite their differences. They are learning that different is good. They are learning that as different as they may look they are more alike than anything. They are learning that not every child has the opportunity to play on finely manicured fields. They are learning that in order to play the game you don’t have to have the best equipment, field, etc.. you just have to have a mutual love for the sport with others. They are learning that language barriers can be broken easily when you have two goals on each end and a ball between you. Further more these children are teaching me that the view of this world and life I have been taught can be changed. Despite all the hate we see on the news and in everyday life we can live together and love one another the way God tells us too. We just have to step outside of our little boxes and experience life. I am so proud of Butter Bean’s team. I am proud of the message that I see being broadcast to everyone who is willing to open their eyes, ears and heart and listen. Boys from different backgrounds and cultures playing together like brothers. The brothers God intended them to be.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! Please share it with ALL!!! Have a Blessed day!!