It was fine weather for a soccer tournament. Coach Kevin led his boys’ team through to the finals, with proud fans cheering from the sidelines.
Kevin’s family is visiting, which boosted our audience numbers.
I almost never get to see my eldest play. The way the soccer schedules have worked out, AppleApple’s team plays the same nights as Kevin and Albus’s team, which means we’re almost always driving in opposite directions, to faraway fields, with Kevin and me updating each other by texts, and smaller children either dragged along or, more often, looked after by Grandma Linda. So I felt lucky to get to watch a couple of his games this weekend.
In the final, the boys came back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game and force extra minutes, and then penalty shots. In the end, they didn’t win. But they’d played with such heart and without ever giving up, I wanted to hug each and every team member. (Don’t worry, I didn’t! Can you imagine the embarrassment that would cause?!)
At one tense point, AppleApple said to me, “I don’t know how you can stand to watch, Mom!” Considering she’s caused me some of my most heart-wrenching competitive viewing moments, I found this very amusing. She had to go to a nearby field and kick the ball to ease the tension. I don’t know how I can stand it, sometimes, either, but I’ve gotten good practice over the years. I can’t say it’s fun, exactly, but it’s thrilling, definitely, especially when seeing my child step up to a new level of play, and put his or her hard-earned skills to use. The reward is in the effort, I think, much more than the result, though it’s always more fun to win than lose.
I’m a fairly recent convert to team sports. There are so many positives that come from being part of a team — given good coaching, of course. Here’s what I look for and commend my kids on after games, win or lose: never giving up, hard work, keeping a positive attitude no matter what’s going on around them, thinking of the team as a whole, staying focused, clean play, respect for everyone on the field, communication, trying new skills, and playing with heart while not letting emotions take over. There was much to commend my boy on after this weekend’s tournament. I can’t take credit, but I can take pride.