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Saturday Soccer Fun

If you want to be entertained, go to the YMCA soccer field Saturday morning. It’s entertaining watching happy children run on the grassy field and kick a ball.

My first game was about two years ago while visiting our Grands and their parents who live across country. Daniel, then 5, competes to win, and he was in the middle of the cluster of his teammates and opponents chasing the ball. The objective is to get the ball in the opposing team’s goal to score a point. But a kick that sends the ball downfield warrants cheers, and not just from the parents and grandparents of the kicker, everyone cheers a good play.

Celebrating Daniel’s success when he scored a goal was worth the airplane ride to visit him. Because the ending score is usually low, maybe 1 to 3, a goal is cause for high fives. Daniel ran along the sideline of the field to slap outstretched hands.

Recently, on a cool misty morning, Husband and I donned our raincoats and carried umbrellas to watch Lucy, almost 7, play. Twelve players, a referee, and two coaches standing took the field. We fans, the players’ parents, siblings, and grandparents, stood along the sideline. Seasoned fans sat in their folding chairs.

Lucy had told me how she kicked the ball in the goal the week before when I was out of town. “I scored!” she said. “Gran, you gotta’ come watch.” She and the other players took the field wearing their short sleeve uniform shirts, shorts, shin guards, knee-high socks, and shoes with cleats. No team, professional or collegiate, looked more ready to play.

Just like in Daniel’s game, a team member, the goalie, stood in front of the goal to stop the ball. Lucy and four teammates ran the field, seemingly oblivious to the cool rain shower. We and other spectators raised umbrellas and rain jacket hoods. The players seated on the sidelines huddled under plastic covers that parents held.

I’m learning soccer rules. Players cannot kick, trip, tackle, hold, push, strike, jump on, or spit on an opponent. Seems like school playground rules to me. And except for the goalie, players aren’t allowed to touch the ball with their hands. When a penalty kick was awarded to Lucy’s opposing team, she and her teammates stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the goal while the rain came down more steadily.

During the second period, Lucy took a rest and I watched her team’s goalie, a little guy who moved fast. When the ball was on the other end of the field, he jumped and kicked for no apparent reason. Then the players were hit with wind swept, hard rain. The goalie stopped, looked up, and opened his mouth wide. He caught raindrops, but not the ball that whizzed past him and into the goal.

I might be hooked. Even if my Grands aren’t playing, I’ll take in little kids’ soccer games. They are that fun.

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