By Christina Forgeron, Columnist
In the spring, I registered my son for summer soccer in our new town, mostly to assist in friend-making, without thoroughly investigating what the commitment level was. As it turns out, he earned a spot on a pretty competitive team that travels to tournaments and competes several times each week. This is a first for both him and me. His previous sporting commitments were ‘for fun’ but this competitive team would be a little different.
The Broncos, his U11 team, practice twice a week and play once or twice each week. Populated with kids of coaches and former soccer players, the skill level on his team is pretty high. To my surprise, the Broncos won every game they played in May and June and arrived very confidently to a tournament midseason, poised to take home the trophy.
Throughout the tournament, they defeated team after team, making it to finals on Sunday. The opposing team rose to the challenge however, and brought the game to a tie by the time the whistle blew. Following a scoreless overtime, penalty shots were fired upon the nerve-wracked goalie warrior from each team. In the end, the Broncos lost the match. What an exciting game to watch! But it was their first loss and it stung.
Despite tears and disappointment, the opposing team was congratulated, hands were shaken and no excuses were made. The league’s head coach sent an email to parents the next day requesting we share the following points with our little players:
Our U11 AA players represented our club incredibly well and for that we all say thanks. More importantly, the weekend was filled with valuable lessons for our young players:
• Sometimes even when it’s your best effort you are not rewarded. In those moments we learn to lose with class and integrity. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose but you always show your opponent the respect they deserve.
• There are no excuses, there are only opportunities…opportunities to learn, reflect and grow. Make excuses and you will never progress…take your opportunities and you are always progressing.
• For young players it is about learning the complexities of soccer. The skills, tactics, strategies and physical demands of this sport can be taxing but that’s why we love it!
• In a team sport your teammates are what matter. How we work together, treat each other and support one another will often be the difference in our competitive experience.
This same head coach also meets with the parents at the beginning of the season to discuss sideline behavior and support. There is no tolerance for aggressive behavior from parents. He encourages parents to cheer for all of the good plays they see on the field regardless of what team makes the play.
As a result of this attitude from the person at the top of the league, tournaments and games are a pleasure; the players are competitive yet respectful, the parents are supportive and encouraging, and a disappointing loss becomes an opportunity for growth.