In the age of over-scheduling and helicopter parenting, I want to talk about the lessons my daughter has learned and the intrinsic value she has gained from playing on an organized sports team at a young age. At the beginning of the season my daughter was apprehensive to join first grade soccer, and would have been happy sticking with ballet and gymnastics. However, I
pushed guided her toward making the decision to join the team, and she couldn’t be happier! Along with the obvious social benefits of making a bunch of new, awesome friends, my daughter has learned some valuable lessons.
The importance of being reliable. Being on a team means others count on you to show up. My daughter had to miss a birthday party, and be late to a family event, to meet the commitments of her team. At first, she didn’t understand how important it was to show up, but after realizing you need eight players to ensure there are enough substitutes so everyone gets a water break, she puts her teammates first.
The importance of being happy for others. This is a tough lesson to practice, even for adults. The days you score four goals and play well, it’s easy to be happy, give high fives and do cart wheels down the field. What happens on the days you don’t score, you forget your water bottle at home and you don’t play well? It’s easy to pout and be grumpy, but it’s important on those bad days to cheer on your friends who are doing well; even though you are down, offer your friend a high-five, cheer extra loudly when they score, and try again next week.
You don’t always win. Some teams will beat you; other players will be better than you. Not everyone gets a medal, sometimes you lose, and that is ok.
Resilience. Even during the weeks that everything seems to be clicking, you sometimes goof up. One time my daughter went to kick the ball, missed, and fell down in a rather embarrassing manner. It was one of those cross-road moments where she was either going to start crying and walk off, or brush herself off and move on. She did the later. It was an important moment where she learned that even though you are playing well, you are still capable of making mistakes, and that you can’t take yourself too seriously. If you fall, hop back up and keep going.
It has been a wonderful season for my daughter. She has made great friends, learned valuable lessons, and is developing a love for soccer. This past weekend she invited her teammates over for a Halloween party, and at the end, after a day filled with running, laughing, apple bobbing, and pumpkin painting she said, “I never would have met these girls if I didn’t sign up for soccer…I’m so happy I did!” Houston Dynamos…you are a great group of girls!
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