I’ve been watching a lot of soccer lately. A lot. Sitting on metal bleachers or standing on the sidelines, in 82 degree weather (with mosquitoes) one day and bundled up in coats and boots the next.
My time spent as a spectator has allowed me to observe five life lessons from a group of 9-12 year olds.
1. Everybody has a position to play. Some score, some defend, but without everybody doing their part, the team has a difficult time winning. At home, on the job, in our church or community, we all have a ministry that impacts someone else.
2. Sharpen your focus. My daughter’s team quickly figured out who the best players were on the opposing teams and focused on shutting them down, not allowing them to score. So I need to decide which tasks, goals, attitudes I want to achieve and focus on accomplishing them.
3. Encourage each other. The kids cheer together when a teammate scores – or even takes a good shot – raising their arms and yelling encouragement. We all need that – someone to pat us on the back, lift us up, encourage us to keep going.
4. Take time to connect with others. The girls who are waiting their turn to get in the game may be chatting about their school day or playing with each other’s hair. (Boys usually are not guilty of this.) While the game is important to them, it doesn’t trump relationships.
5. Sometimes the snack at the end of the game is the best part. That bottle of Gatorade and package of Oreos – even at these ages – still ease the sting of defeat, at least a little bit. As my dad advised me years ago, “Always have something to look forward to.” It can be a few minutes of quiet time to craft or read a book or spending time with the family on vacation, but knowing there’s a reward ahead can keep you going.
My daughter’s team has struggled this year, but they got a win last night. Now it’s on to the playoffs Friday night!