When my son told us he wanted to play cricket, I’ve got to admit I felt pretty disappointed in him. In all honesty, he could have chosen any other sport and I’d have held back my thoughts- but soccer? Well, there’s just no escaping how I feel about it.
Flash back to my tenth birthday. It was Saturday, late November, and the sun had toasted every stretch of grass to within a beige crisp. I had reached double-digits and had every intention of spending the day the best not watching my brother play soccer. But, come heck or high water – in my family at least- soccer in November was a granted. And I was stuck.
My brother was pretty great at soccer, apparently. I was never convinced it was a game anyone could be good at. I surveyed every game in anticipation for one thing- it’s end. I looped my fingers through the new soccer neting and watched, willing the game to be over.
By the time it did, I was sunburnt, thirsty and tired. So naturally, when my son told me in all honesty that he desperately wanted to join our local team for under 11s, my mind instantly travelled back to my 10 year old self, fingers entwined in the sports nets and wishing more than anything that soccer wasn’t important to anyone I knew. And now, here I was, with the person most important to me in the world, imploring that soccer be a part of his life, our life, my summer, his weekends. The memories washed in, back to when we didn’t have air conditioning in cars, and when sunblock was something overprotective parents slathered their kids in.
I took my son to his first game, he strutted across the field with armfuls of gear, his boots and even his own jersey – the one his uncle had given it to him with the highest of hopes.