“What are you doing?”
“Run to the ball!”
“Get back in the goal!”
“That was a foul!”
“That wasn’t a foul!”
If you recognize these statements, then you have attended a youth soccer game. If you have said these statements, then you are probably related to one of the players. If you have said these statements at multiple games in a day, then you probably don’t have much of a voice left.
Soccer weekends can be exhausting for all involved. It’s been almost ten years since I have been a Soccer Mom. I thoroughly enjoyed my reign and was sad when it ended. Soccer isn’t completely out of my life though, instead my title just changed to Soccer Aunt.
So, today, this Soccer Aunt watched three youth soccer games in one day. Funny thing, is that I remember the days when a foldable chair was a permanent fixture in my car; yet today I almost left the house without one. I also had to grab a room temperature water bottle too because I forgot to put some in the refrigerator the previous evening for the long day. I felt like a beginner all over again!
There are definitely times when I miss those hectic Soccer Days—mostly the people and experiences, not necessarily the crazy weather and packing the car! Having one child was an advantage during these times, even though we would still often stay and watch others play their games. People, like my sister and brother-in-law, who have more than one child playing, have no choice though, but to practically live at the field on game days.
While at the first soccer game today, curiosity kicked in. Has anything really changed since my son started playing soccer almost 20 years ago? I decided to consult my circle of family and friends. Through social media, texts, and conversations, I asked them to name 3-5 things that every soccer parent MUST have (as a spectator). Not surprisingly, my top ones made the list. What I hadn’t expected were the non-physical items that were mentioned. For that reason, I’m providing two lists.
Top five items that every soccer parent must BRING to a game:
- Shade/Umbrella or EZ-up for “rain and heat”
Other notable responses: sunglasses, hat, sweater, spray bottle, band aids, basic first aid kit, extra baggies for ice, full ice chest, non-water drinks, wagon (to carry everything), TeamSnap App (for communication), and my favorite—a camera “to catch the winning goal”
Top five items that every soccer parent must HAVE at every game:
- Knowledge or basic understanding of the game
- Positive Attitude/Supportive or Encouraging Words
- Restraint/Willingness to “bite your tongue”
- Sense of humor
Notable quotes about soccer weather:
“Tolerance to extreme weather conditions”
“Sunglasses and a parka—sometimes in the same day”
Best parental advice about the game itself:
“An understanding that your kid isn’t you and you shouldn’t be reliving your life through them.”
“Ability to not talk too much about how they did and just let them know I enjoyed watching”
Unlike baseball, which has a pause between batters and a larger pause between innings, soccer doesn’t allow much time during the game to converse, use the restroom, or visit the snack bar, without missing something. However, despite the lack of conversation, it is extremely rare to find a silent moment in a youth soccer game. There will always be someone yelling something. Sometimes it is encouraging and sometimes it’s not. Hopefully, the kids have learned to tune out the yelling.
“Every time you fall down, it gives you an opportunity to question yourself, question your integrity. It’s not about the actual failure itself—it’s how you respond to it.” ~Abby Wambach
In the end, soccer is more than just a game. It teaches everyone that the “best team” may not always win, on any given day, but quitting or whining are not the solutions. It encourages socialization between players and parents. It connects diverse families together for a common goal. It often ensures the child of a “family day.” Even more so, it can bring a positive scenario to a child of a bitter divorce. The player can look from the field and see his or her parents in the same place, even if they sit at opposite ends. For that moment, they’re not bickering with each other (hopefully). The sport also develops a regular fitness routine that can help in the fight against childhood obesity.
Soccer brings memories of friendships, laughter and a period of busyness that I thought would never end. Well, it does eventually end. So the next time that you hurriedly pack your umbrella, chair, water, snacks, and sunscreen in the car, take a moment to stop and be thankful that you have these moments to share with your child.
“Childhood is a short season.” ~Helen Hayes