There are many things I am grateful for, and the game of soccer is at the top of the list. Of course, my kids are first, but soccer and my family have come hand in hand throughout the years. Soccer is one thing all of us enjoy playing, discussing and watching.
I have played soccer for most of my life, coached teams of various ages and stages. Now, I have four children who play. I believe I have a good understanding of the game and can appreciate the growth of young athletes and the evolution of their game as they become older and more competitive. Many times, I am able to watch all of the stages in one weekend since my children's ages range from college age to elementary.
My children started playing soccer when they were young. I believe the older ones took an interest in the game because I was coaching, and they had to go to a few practices and games. They also play other sports, but all of them play soccer. The game of soccer has always been a focal point in our household. We watch it on television, follow players, plan outings around tournaments and play small-sided games in the yard.
When we are all together, many discussions center on soccer. Dinner conversations have turned into lively strategy debates and game replays. Since this is where most of the sessions happen, we have many code words to signal issues on the field that are food related. When game day comes, we all are anxious to see if our tips and theories work out. Other parents give us funny looks when we yell out food names during games. This always adds a little levity during intense matches.
We have all taken on the responsibility of helping each another improve quite seriously. The younger one is always at the ready to help his older siblings work on their skills. We are each other’s biggest fans and strongest supporters. I will always appreciate my kids' interest in becoming better players. It is one subject they continue to need my advice on. There is nothing more heartwarming than a teenager coming to you when they are struggling with something.
I am truly grateful for the game of soccer because I have been fortunate enough to have played and watch my children grow and fall in love with the sport. It is the one thing we continue to bond over in our time together. I hope this will be a family tradition for a long time to come.
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