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Monday, August 30, 2010

Adventures of a (Reluctant) Soccer Mum

This is it. The soccer season is almost over. Just one more weekend to go. Thank goodness for that.

The 8yo and 6yo play soccer. I have to say – the soccer season always feels ridiculously long to me. (And now I understand why my Ob/Gyn – a father of 5 – once told me he would sometimes pray for rain on Saturdays, just to avoid the whole sports day thing.) To be quite honest, I’m not the biggest soccer fan. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. When my niece (who is my age) dated a guy who played weekend soccer years ago, we used to head to all the games, and I loved it. There was something about sitting in the stands or lying by the edge of the soccer pitch, flicking through a magazine in between goals being scored that made for a lovely past time. And of course, players like David Beckham and Harry Kewell and the like are great to watch too. :)

Kid’s soccer on the other hand? Ah, well…that’s a whole new ball game. (So to speak.)

Have you ever watched a 5yo soccer match? If your kid isn’t playing, it might seem cute to watch a bunch of kids run around missing the ball more times than they actually kick it. However, when it’s your child, and you’re watching him standing there as the ball rolls past his feet, head facing up to the sky, tongue sticking out trying to catch a few rains drops, it can be nothing short of frustrating. Funny – but also frustrating. The 8yo’s first year of soccer was almost cringe-worthy. I mean, yes – it is cute to watch at times, but mostly, I stood holding my breath and willing my son to just run for the ball. (For the love of God, please.) 

Earlier this year, the 6yo – currently in his second year of soccer – even refused to play at one match. Thankfully, I wasn’t there that time, but Hubby was, and he ended up bringing the 6yo home early, because he couldn’t stand to watch him sit on the ground in the middle of the field, arms crossed in determination to not play a second longer. And I don’t blame him. Hubby or the 6yo, that is.

The 8yo had a couple of particularly shocking matches too. At one, he practically refused to play, because just that morning, he had decided his soccer boots were too tight. He didn’t discover this at training two days prior, or at the previous weekend’s soccer match – just that morning. And he went in to shut down mode on the field.

After purchasing new boots, he played a whole new soccer game. The other parents marveled at his progress, and I thought we had finally turned a corner. Then we got a particularly cold and windy day for one match (as you do, being a winter sport and all), and once again, the 8yo couldn’t function. He walked around barely able to get even slightly close to the ball, and no amount of explaining that if he ran he would actually warm up, was working. Having played netball for many years as a kid in the cold and rain (and disliking it intensely), I understood, and allowed him to wear his jumper during the match. But it didn’t do much to lift his game, unfortunately. 

And soccer training…don’t even get me started. We race home after school to jump in the car and head to the local park and stand in the cold for an hour, whilst I attempt to keep an eye on the 3yo and the dog. We had one particularly disastrous soccer training session recently.

Firstly, as we arrived and I was attempting to get drink bottles out of the soccer bag and keep an eye on the 3yo and the dog, the dog decided that the 1,249 trees surrounding the park were not up to scratch to pee on, and used the soccer bag instead. Great. As I attempted to clean it up and get the big boys off to their coaches, I looked up to find the 3yo MIA.

I scouted the oval, and after five minutes, starting to mildly panic - and just about to alert the media -  I suddenly spied him rounding the corner on his scooter, having decided today was the day he would attempt a circuit of the oval on his own.

I redirected him to the adjacent dog park, with strict instructions not to leave my side, and was telling my friend about the start to the day’s training session - in particular noting that the soccer bag was now drenched in dog wee - only to look down to see the dog taking another wee. On my friend’s boot. Which, not surprisingly, was on her foot at the time.


When soccer training was finished, the 8yo was complaining about some friends teasing him, and how they wouldn’t pass the ball to him, and the 6yo was getting angry because he couldn’t find his soccer ball. The 3yo was running towards the car – parked on the side of the road – and I was busy attempting to keep the dog away from any more bags or boots.

As I raced towards the 3yo, the 6yo – now tired and irritable after a long day at school and soccer training – was having a mini-meltdown over the fact that I chose to save my youngest son from almost certain death by a passing car, than wait for him to locate his soccer ball on an oval containing no less than a thousand children (probably a slight exaggeration) all with almost identical looking soccer balls (probably also a slight exaggeration).

Eventually, he found it, and made sure I was aware how annoyed he was that I didn’t help him – and I had managed to find the 3yo, not by the side of the road at all, but hanging out near the public toilets. Yeah. That’s a good place to be. The public toilets, now close to dark, at the local park.

We eventually all climbed in to the car, and I was just wrestling the 3yo back in to his seat after climbing over in to the front seat to ‘drive’ the car (and hence, play with every button he could possibly find in the process) when I suddenly whiffed something unpleasant. Uh-oh. Dog poo.

I immediately instructed everyone to check their shoes, and as I lifted the 3yo’s I discovered it. Great. Now it was not only on the floor and on his seat (and therefore, on him), but it was also on my seat.

I cleaned it all up best I could and drove home to collapse with exhaustion start dinner after cleaning the poo from the 3yo's shoes. Sigh.

But this past weekend made all the effort worth it in the end, because the 6yo finally scored his first goal of the season. He didn’t seem to understand how exciting it was at first, but I sure did. I jumped up and down like a lunatic, and the other parents quickly worked out this was the first goal. Then I watched as his friend lifted him in to the air in celebration, and the 6yo raised his arms in the air too, and I couldn’t have been more proud.

Still…after this Saturday, I’m glad to say goodbye to soccer for another year. The 8yo will commence cricket soon, and that’s much more my style. I’m quite happy to sit around in my foldout chair and chat with the other mums - the warm weather enveloping us as we sit in the shade of a nearby tree, relaxed after arriving to find plenty of parking spots nearby. No strapping on of soccer boots either, and no muddy clothes. Bonus.

How about you? Does your child play a lot of sport? Do you enjoy it, or find it a nuisance?


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