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Team sports and four year olds

April 12, 2010

Alex really likes sports. He has a soccer goal in the backyard, he’s been playing t-ball with us for a couple of years now and can crack that ball over the fence over and over again.

Now that he has turned four, a whole new world of team sports has opened up for him.

My sisters played soccer and my dad coached. They all loved it so I figured soccer would be a good place to start.

We signed him up for Salem Youth Soccer.

He was so excited when we picked up his jersey (#8!) and his ball and we talked about how fun it would be and all the new friends he would meet.

And then Sunday was the first day of soccer.

He did great in the drills. He had his own ball, he listened and did what was asked of him (and did well!).

Then they split them up for the first scrimmage. 5 boys on each side and ONE ball. Alex had never played soccer like this before and I don’t think anything was really explained in the moment, but he went along with it.

He ran with the other boys (all older than him, he was the youngest and we barely made the cut off to join) and tried to kick the ball but he couldn’t quite get in there.

And then he got tackled and down he went. He got back up. No tears. And he kept playing. But visibly more timid than before. He stayed in for about 6 more minutes (which is a long time for a four year old) and then he started walking toward me.

His little lip was slightly quivering and his eyes filled with tears as he put his arms around my neck and he said “mommy they won’t let me play with the ball. I don’t have a ball to play with.” I did my best to explain how the game is played, one ball and everyone tries to kick it in the goal etc. But he still wasn’t sure.

He was also upset that he was knocked down (I had to drag that out of him).

He did not play the rest of the scrimmage, he just wouldn’t get in the game.

When the scrimmage was over, Dave brought him over to listen to the coach give a pep talk. Once the time was up, all Alex wanted to do was kick the ball around with dad.

He really likes soccer but I think this first day was filled with a lot of strangers and unknown factors. Maybe four year olds and six year olds shouldn’t be on the same team. Maybe explaining the game before playing would have helped. I don’t know what would have made a difference.

Regardless, we will still be there next Sunday. Alex will proudly wear his soccer jersey. And we will try again.

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