I find myself in the position of being a soccer mum. This surprises me somewhat as I am not even a little bit competitive (I have checked this assumption I have about myself out with Gaye who agrees with me) and not at all sporty. I don't play sport, watch sport or even talk about sport. Never is not really true I guess, now and then I watch a bit of the swimming at the Olympics and when Perkins won that last one and Cathy won at the 2000 Olympics I cried. But basically none, nada not that interested.
Thomas is sporty, he was born sporty. He has uncles on both sides that are the sorts of blokes who are good at any sporting activity they take up. He has an aunt who is a bit of a yoga nut. He luckily has Gaye who grew up around football and golf and has a good understanding of sporting terminology, thank the goddess, and has been able to explain at least what is happening when we see some sport or another. Which we do, now. Now that I have a sporty child.
Thomas took up soccer last year, he loves it and he is pretty good at it. He is tall for his age and pretty coordinated. Along with taking him to games and practice, last year we took him to watch the national and local games. I decided I don't mind soccer. One of my dearest friends is a soccer crazy and he has been trying to convince me I should let Thomas stay up and watch the live socceroo world cup games at 2:00am (hmmm).
This year I thought I would/should try and be more involved in soccer. The soccer crazy parent and his partner are my parenting gurus (I love the way they parent and their now teenage daughters are completely fabulous, normal, wonderful girls) and they have always taken a big part in their interests. My parents did this too. I want Thomas to grow up knowing I am interested in his stuff and I want to understand it!
So I took on managing the team – this largely involves making a roster of shirt washes and orange bringers and making sure they all know where and when the game is on each week and then at the game looking after the sub-ing on and off of kids.
Mainly this is a pleasure. I am enjoying being part of the team, getting to know the other kids (who also go to school with Thomas) and their parents.
Last weekend it made me cry! There is one parent on the team who, every week, makes a huge fuss over the amount of subs. She is way competitive and admittedly her child is very very good at soccer (I think his Dad almost played for Italy or some such thing). I felt completely criticised and I am trying so hard to make it fair on all the kids.
The club rules are that every child pays the same so should play the same time. This is what we like about the club. They want all the kids to have a fair turn. They aren’t that fussed about winning they just want them to have fun.
But this parent talks about ‘kids who aren’t committed’ (can I just remind you we are talking about UNDER 7 soccer here) and don’t concentrate on the game. I mean sure there is a fair amount of handstands and cartwheels, a kid from time to time who is perfecting his underarm fart technique and every now and then someone forgets and runs in the wrong direction. I think this is all pretty fabulous, and funny and what it is about.
She made me feel like I should be pushing the kids more or something, like if they aren’t thinking competitively they won’t strive for their best. Maybe I am just a complete softy, lefty or Emilin Crunchy but I am more interested in the kids learning that sport is fun, how to be a member of a team and win and lose with grace rather than winning is the thing and that sport should be taken seriously.
Once she had upset me she did come and apologise. And quite a few of the other parents have gone out of their way this week to touch base with me. But she has been odd with me all week at school and one of the other parents rang and asked if I thought they should take their (handstand regular) daughter off the team. This made me so bloody cross. Gaye has been rolling her eyes at me all week and saying “it isn’t about you Clare it is about her” and “Clare this is UNDER 7 soccer!” And I know she is right.
Mostly I just want Saturday mornings to be fun. I want no drama and the opportunity to yell ‘go go go’ and ‘nice try’ at the top of my voice (honestly sport can be quite exciting!)