Jonah played his first “organized” soccer game on Saturday. (If you’ve seen kiddy soccer, you know why the word organized is in quotes.) He played better than I anticipated. In fact, at the risk of sounding like one of those dads who is too paternally proud, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for him or for me.
Initially, Jonah was very frustrated by the pushing that went on in the game. Such is the state of soccer at this age that it’s virtually impossible for there not to be pushing. It’s really just a little bee swarm chasing a ball, after all. But at the first substitution he was in tears with Erin until she talked him down from it and explained a bit about how the game worked. (Unfortunately, I watched the first half from a distance, being up a hill by a playground so Elisha could run around, so there wasn’t anything I could do.)
Jonah recovered himself nicely the next time in and came very close to scoring, just missing wide. I would have been content at this point had he done nothing else substantively during the game. We could have talked about just missing–something I’m plenty familiar with–and had a good bonding moment over it all.
But it didn’t end there. He actually went out and scored one. Then he dribbled half the field and narrowly missed wide. I thought that was his most impressive bit in the game, frankly. Erin and I swapped positions just after halftime, so I was there to see him score a second goal while–I kid you not–a trio of girls from his team chanted, “Jonah! Jonah! Jonah!” from the sidelines. I’ve been playing since second grade and nobody every chanted my name.
After the second goal (he also had an assist or two), I’m getting high-fives from other parents like I had something to do with Jonah’s work on the field. I guess I could claim good soccer genes or something, but really I’ve not coached him up or anything. I’ve just tried to help him pursue activities he enjoys. I’m afraid I may not be quite as into winning at this level as some of my peers.
Jonah did well organizing the team’s defense and outside of some hysterically funny and horribly illegal obstruction–it looked like he was playing basketball defense against players without the ball–he played a solid defensive game too.
I could not have asked for and certainly did not expect such a fun start to a soccer career. I can only hope that when the losing comes, as it surely will, he retains his enthusiasm for the sport. He’s off to a great start.