When my older kids expressed an interest in organized sports I was all for it. My oldest son started playing baseball when he was 5 years old and stopped playing when he was 12. My other son started playing when he was 7 and played for only one year. Bree wasn’t interested in sports but she did participate in dance classes for a year (dancing was not for her) but she was a Girl Scout from 1st grade through 12th grade. I never wanted to be the parent that forced sports or any other activity onto my kids. I wanted them to find their niche on their own. When Bella came along, it was only natural for me to want her to continue in Bree’s footsteps and be a Girl Scout but I didn’t insist that she do that. Bella asked to be a Girl Scout on her own so that is what we did. Three years later, she is a Brownie and I am her troop leader and resident Cookie mom.
Bella has also taken dance classes (at her request) and she has expressed an interest in gymnastics (our bank account said, “Pass”. Lessons are expensive) but at the start of the school year she asked, “Can I play soccer?” Wow! That came out of nowhere. We are a Football family but not a Futbol family. Ask me anything about touchdowns, offsides, false starts and onside kicks and I can explain it to you. Futbol is something totally new to me. However, when Bella asked if she could play, we told her “Yes.” We found the local soccer club for kids and waited until the registration began in January for the Spring.
Fast forward a few months and Bella is on a team! We paid the registration fee which covered her uniform but not her cleats, shin guards, ball or practice clothes (yeah, she needed practice clothes and socks) She really enjoys being part of a “team”. With Girl Scouts, she is part of a troop. As a troop we work on badges and work on our community service skills. With soccer, Bella can run, play and break out of her shell. Our team has been limited when it comes to practices (due to weather where we live) but that hasn’t stopped our girls. The team had their first game this past weekend and they won!! It is so much fun watching the team working together. After the game, I congratulated Bella on the win and she said, “Mom, it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about having fun!”
She is so wise for her young age. At this point, it is about having fun. Most parents are so hard core about winning and pushing their kids to excel that they take the fun element out of the game. I remember being at my oldest son’s baseball game and hearing the opposing team’s coach yelling at every kid, “PICK YOUR PITCH!! PICK YOUR PITCH!!” That irritated me to no end!! There were even parents for Jeremy’s team that really took little league ball to heart. One dad berated his son after the game because he let a ball get past him and allowed the other team to score. I just remember thinking that this poor kid isn’t going to remember having fun at all. He’s always going to remember his dad yelling at him instead of giving him words of encouragement.
When it comes to Bella & soccer, these are 8 year old kids not 25 year old professional athletes. They are learning the fundamentals of the game and making mistakes (one of our girls had an open shot at the goal, no one around her, she kicked the ball and missed. But she was having fun!) I know that at some point, it will stop being about the fun and more about the game but right now, I am so glad she knows that fun is the most important part of the game. The stress of playing for scores and tournaments will come soon enough. What I do know, at least for now, Bella is making new friends, learning to take direction from someone other than her dad or myself & I am a soccer mom and I love it!!