For the Love of the Game

Tonight I took my oldest daughter with me to my soccer game. Technically it wasn’t a game; indoor season is officially over and outdoor hasn’t started yet. Luckily, I’m not alone in thinking that 9 weeks is too long to go without lacing up my cleats: there is a group of about 15 or so of us who are just not ready to go back to a soccer-free Sunday night. So we ditch the refs, throw a bit of extra cash in to rent the pitch, and play until they kick us out. 

I’ve been playing soccer since I was ten. I have no idea why I stuck with it; back then I was the kid who was subbed on and off regularly with one other girl while everyone else got to play the full game. I’d like to think I stayed because it was love at first kick, but I don’t think I kicked anything other than dirt for my entire first season. It got to the point where my dad offered me five dollars for every goal I scored. I did not get rich. However, I do have an urge to yell ‘Five bucks Dad!’ every time I put the ball in the back of the net.

Both our girls have been playing soccer since they could walk. Maybe even before, if you count the times we held them up and swept their legs towards a ball. 

 

When he’s old enough, we’ll dig out the girls’ old cleats to pass on to their brother (yes, even the pink ones). We are a soccer family: we watch match highlights before bed. But despite our love of the game, none of us are exceptionally good players. We aren’t super fast, we don’t know many tricks, and none of us can bend it like Beckham. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not horrible players, but we definitely aren’t stellar players either. 

But we still play.

I don’t know if my daughter watched me at all (she brought a rather thick book to read), and even if she had she wouldn’t have seen any amazing moves or even a goal (despite the fact that I played forward for half the game). She wouldn’t have seen me dribble the entire field, perform a forward flip on a throw in, or even head the ball in the direction I wanted it to go. 

But she would have seen my heart. 

She would have seen that I love the game, that I chased that ball with everything I had and that when someone else was faster I chased them too. She would have seen me run and reach and jump and fall and get back up again. She would have seen me bump into other players, bounce off boards, miss plays, fall down. She would have seen other women, some younger and some older, running with me, running after me, running past me. Women calling for the ball, cheering, teasing each other. Women playing together, encouraging one another, helping each other. Women laughing. 

She would have seen women who love the game as much as I do. 

But let’s be real, she probably didn’t watch. Did I mention the really thick book she brought? And the kid loves to read. The chances that she put the book down to watch a bunch of sweaty women chase after a ball are pretty slim. If I’m honest, I don’t really care if she watched the game or spent the entire time reading her book. In fact, I only glanced up every once in a while to make sure she was still there, safe in her spot on the bench. 

I was too busy chasing the ball.

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