We are a soccer family. Have been ever since we moved to Bermtopia and started going to my niece and nephew's games. We became hopelessly, totally addicted.
The Number One and Number Two Sons played soccer into college. We coached the N2S and his team, the Blue Angel Barracudas-White Strikers-Strikers, until they turned 12 and moved on to club. The Wonderfully Patient Spouse and I played over-30 (and later over-40) Jack-and-Jill soccer (indoor and outdoor!) for a number of years. My sister-in-law and I extended our illustrious adult "careers" (if you could call it that) in a women's league for several years more
Sadly, I retired from the sport some years back. I made that tough decision the morning after I drove myself down to the local hospital emergency room at midnight to get my wedding band cut off. I had broken my finger playing goalkeeper and couldn't get the swelling to stop. I was afraid gangrene would set in. (And, please, do not ask about the strategic wisdom of a 5' 2" goakkeeper. . . .)
We've played bingo for soccer, sold cookies for soccer, did janitorial duty for soccer. I can't tell you how many weekends I've spent (and survived) sharing hotel rooms with teen-age boys and their farts and funkiness in the name of the sport. We've celebrated championships and bemoaned shellackings. Survived rolled ankles, broken bones, several epic assaults to the cojones, a torn ACL and yes, since you asked, one dickhead coach.
Overall, it's been a glorious ride. And we're starting over again (happily passing on the hotel room farts and funk) with a new generation of great-niece and nephew soccer players.
I share all this blather to (finally) make a point . In the course of a child's soccer career -- at least speaking as the mother of boys -- there is no better, more magical year than the U8 season (translation: 7-year-olds).
They are adorable. They still take time (in the middle of a game) to make eye contact and grin at a doddering great-aunt.
They are starting to "get it." You know, spread out, move the ball inside-outside-patient-as-a-fox (secret formula! talk to me), when to go to the ball, when to make runs.
Just enough to make you say, "Wait till you see these guys next year!" at those moments of 7-year-old soccer brilliance. . .
And then, as in any endeavor with young kids, they forget . . . shoes need to be tied, jerseys untangled, players pointed in the right direction and, at times, reminded to play.
Mr. Green Player to the left?
There's a game going on here.
And of course
Comedy and Drama.
Who will probably end up being the greatest soccer monster of them all.