Well it’s finally over for me. Lord knows I did my time. Halfway through the season this year my son decided he had had enough of playing soccer. To be honest with you, I’m not disappointed. Don’t worry I know the drill, it is great physical exercise, it develops social skills, teaches kids to loose and to win with grace, oh I’ve heard it all, in fact I’ve said most of it too. I also did my tour as a coach for more years than I care to count. My son was not the first child I had in soccer.
Apparently ‘Football’ (soccer here in Canada) is the most popular sport on the planet. Makes sense right, all you really need to play is a ball and your feet. As a kid I played some soccer, with friends and what not, but never anything organized. In fact where I grew up I couldn’t even tell you if there was a soccer league. We learned to play in school but that was about the extent of my soccer career.
So when I moved into the town I presently live in I was a bit surprised to see that pretty much ever kid that lives in town plays, played, or is going to play soccer. They start at 4 years old and play until 18 when they go off to join a grown up league, or senior league, or old folks league, or whatever it’s called. I swear to God I think people move here just to have their kids play soccer. Don’t get me wrong, kids could be up to a lot worth things, it’s just all a little cult-ish.
In my town soccer isn’t just a sport, its season, just like spring or winter. The email comes in, informing you it’s time to sign up. Then there are huge lines that show up in the town mall, try outs, practices, games, tournaments, soccer parties, fund raisers, and it all ends with a giant BBQ in which the kids get a hot-dog, a metal and a photo (and usual 9 or 10 of them get stung by bees too). Please keep in mind most of this takes place after you’ve worked an eight or ten hour day, rushed home through traffic and have forgone supper.
When I was younger and not so soccer savey, I used to coach. This is the job where all the parents tell you what you ‘should’ be doing but none of them actually want to help you do it. A few of those years I even coached with my wife, how we got through that I’ll never know. I have watched grown men and women physically threaten 12 and 13 year old referees in front of other men and women and no one think anything of it. I have even seen people come to blows on the soccer field in front of their 7 and 8 year old kids. Oh the soccer life it ain’t always pretty.
On the other hand, I have watched kids work hard and become a team. Watched kids score their first goals. Watched kids eat popsicles, laugh, enjoy the sport and just be kids. I’ve made friends myself because of soccer. Friends that I have to this day and will probably have for the rest of my life. No it isn’t all bad, in fact parts of it are pretty good. In the end what do we do for? Our kids.
This guys has done his soccer duties, I am done. Maybe I will watch a grand kid play one day but for now I pass the torch onto younger and more patient parents. Good luck to you all, and remember it could be worst, it could be hockey.