One of the joys of soccer is seeing your children learn and be excited about playing. The delight these girls have as they take the field is palpable. They run out onto the field with huge smiles and energetic hops... like lambs leaping just for the fun of it.
Once the game starts, though, they are all business. Focused. Tough. Last year, Yordanos (Yo-Yo to her teammates) took a ball to the face in the last few minutes of a game. It looked like her mouth was hurt, but she didn't stop playing. The game ended and she comes over and I see that both her upper and lower lips were cut and bleeding from the ball hitting her.
"Honey!" I say, all concerned, "Why didn't you tell Coach you were bleeding?"
She rolled her eyes and said, "Mom! I didn't want to get pulled from the game in the last 2 minutes."
I've seen her crumple to the ground after being tripped, pushed, hit in the stomach with a ball. She usually bounces right back up and keeps playing. A couple of times she has lain there a little bit crying, but still she gets up with renewed vigor and KEEPS PLAYING.
People, this is so NOT ME as a child.
Last weekend the kids played in a tournament in Elgin. Here are the U-12 (Under 12 year old) girls going to warm up for their 1st game. They played 3 games... losing one and winning two, which was enough to get them into the finals. Getting to the finals is something you hope for and dread. Hope for, because, well, COOL, you'll get a trophy no matter what. But dread, because, AW MAN, we have to wait around for 3 hours for the final.
The girls played their hearts out, and were briefly in the lead, but they couldn't hold onto it and lost 2-1. Here is Yo-Yo and her coach. That is the 2nd place trophy. Can you believe that? That thing is huge. This is her 2nd trophy.
Habtamu handled the "my sister got a trophy and I didn't" much better this time than last time. His team, a co-ed U-14, won one, lost one and tied one in the tournament... not quite enough to go on. They kept the ball mostly on the "right" side, meaning they had dozens of attempts to score, but just couldn't do it. Their coach told them (loudly) after the game, "I don't care if the score is 1,000 to 1... you keep playing like it's 0-0....you keep running and trying!" I love him.