It's fall (everywhere but Phoenix anyways) and for me that means one thing. . . Soccer! For most people in the USA it's time for American Football, but for me it's the World's football game that excites me. Ever since I was seven the smells of fall meant that it was time to get the cleats and shin guards out and try to outdo opponents on the pitch. I played throughout my youth and got my High School Letter (one of three by the way) in Soccer. In fact my fondest High School memory came my Junior year when I scored against the team we hated most.
At this stage in my life Soccer consists of following MLS, the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. Also I get to coach my children in Soccer. This year it is my 4 year olds first year. I have 9 four and five year old boys and no girls which means we can be dominant (even though it is a recreational and not a competitive league). It's great to take the time to get these boys excited about a game I love. So far I've been able to teach them to chase the ball, turn the ball towards the right goal, score (we have 12 goals in two games) and throw-ins.
My favorite part of these practices is when I play "keep away". Basically I challenge the kids to get the ball away from me while I dribble around them. It's fun to see them smile and try to gang up on me. Of course I don't keep the ball all the time. I do let them get involved to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be it.
The game itself is rather simple in it's concept - move the ball downfield with your feet and kick it in the goal. However, there is a lot to be learned from it. The concepts of sharing are inherent in the game. If you don't learn to pass the ball you will never succeed. Another aspect is keeping your head up. This allows you to see what is happening and make good choices when you have the ball. This teaches players to slow down in life, evaluate the situation and make informed decisions (something our leaders could learn to do).
Now of course all sports have some applicability in life, but for me Soccer is the perfect game (sorry Jeff). It teaches you to share, to lead, to take care of one another. There are many lessons that can be learned (especially when and when not to tackle the ball). Soccer has provided me with many joys as well as many sorrows and I have to admit that I am a better person for it.