Sunday, September 14, 2014

Soccer Season Begins

Ronan's soccer photo for Fall 2014 - every year he looks a little bit older

It's that time of year - the days are growing shorter, school is back in session, and weekends now have soccer for all other activities to schedule around.

Ronan tries on a tough-guy pose...

...but his face quickly reverts to the real, smiley Ronan

Ronan seems to love the sport. This is now his second year with AYSO so he's familiar with practices, game structure, and following directions. Ronan's perpetual positive attitude has endeared him to many of the coaches; he works harder than most of the other kids on the field so nobody will accuse him of not trying. He's a decent player, he enjoys competing, and soccer allows him a positive outlet for his abundance of energy. All in all the sport is a good fit for him.

Nieve's first day of soccer photo... at least she has the confidence

While Ronan has taken to soccer, Mom and I have our doubts that Nieve will develop a similar relationship with the sport. She has never been one to exert herself any more than necessary and she's an outspoken critic of chaos. As soccer at this age is basically children running crazily around a field after a ball, at a macro level it does not seem like the best fit for Nieve.

Nieve and her teammates show a little hustle

But if last weekend is any indication, there is at least a glimmer of hope (if only a glimmer). Nieve understood the major points of the game (everyone of the same jersey color is on the same team, each team is supposed to try and put the ball in a specific goal, don't use your hands) which meant she was already in the top 25% of those on the field.

Nieve making a move with the ball

Contrary to our expectations, Nieve actually hustled (if only for short periods of time) and was not afraid of contact. The biggest challenge was keeping her focused on her own play rather than that of her teammates. Nieve felt it her duty to continually (and loudly) inform her teammates of where the ball was and what they were supposed to be doing about it.

Nieve trying to set up a play

Three against one? Remember, these are four-year-olds; the odds are not as bad as they appear

To Nieve's credit, her instructions (commands?) were directionally correct, but no one (not even herself) listened. So she missed a few plays simply due to the fact that she was consumed with lecturing whomever was nearest rather than being a part of the play.

Nieve spotted a breakaway opportunity, and after none of her teammates acted on her observation, Nieve took up the effort herself

The boy in green finally realized what Nieve was squawking about, and gave chase...

...but there were gopher holes in the field, and one must have caught his shoe

Meaning all that was left was Nieve's teammate, her coach, and the goal

Only one more thing to do (at this point, it was *still* 50/50 that the ball would find the back of the net)...


At one point the entire field was distracted (likely watching a squirrel run up a tree), so Nieve yelled, "Hey! The ball is in! Go get the ball! HEY! GET THE BALL!" The inaction of her teammates must have raised her frustration level above her desire not to do any work, because Nieve finally muttered, "Fine!" ran over to the ball, dribbled it down the length of the field, and put it in the unattended net of the opposing team.

Nieve's goal celebration dance

On her trip back after her goal she kept saying, "I told them the ball was in, but they just stood there. I TOLD THEM. THEY JUST STOOD THERE."

Little Captain Sassy Pants

So that's soccer season for us. One child we are hoping does not collapse on the pitch from extreme exhaustion, the other we are encouraging to exert *non-verbal* effort, if only a little. It should be interesting, if nothing else. Oh, and yes, of course - we hope Ronan and Nieve have fun.