My boys are in soccer camp this week for the first time. Although they've both had a bit of exposure to soccer through their gym class, this is the first time they've been really immersed in it. Geoff and I have been looking for a program like this because we have a feeling that soccer will be something that Seth, in particular, might be naturally gifted at. And for both boys, it just seems like soccer would be a good sport to know a little about.
I was so excited to learn about this camp because the kids have done basketball camp with the same organization and the coaches are just so great and the instruction equally fantastic. It's a fabulous program for kids ages 7-12 and being taught by university-age soccer players/coaches from all over North America who are not only highly skilled but frankly awesome with kids.
I've been so impressed thus far. When we arrived at the first morning of camp, no fewer than thirteen coaches were there waiting for the kids; as we walked amongst the coaches heading towards the registration table, every single one of those coaches greeted my three kids and said something welcoming. Truly, there could be no better introduction for my kids to their week of camp than such a warm and relational connection. With about 24-25 kids participating and 10 coaches staying the week, I'd say the ratio of coach:kid is pretty amazing.
I love, too, that the coaches are very diverse in makeup: men; women; multi-racial. Seth immediately gravitated towards one of the black coaches, who seemed equally interested in him, and Seth later commented that he liked having several brown-skinned coaches working with him.
If the week goes well, I'm thinking of registering one or both boys in an indoor soccer association this fall...I truly think Seth might find a niche here and, from what Matthew said yesterday about how quickly Seth was picking up soccer skills, that gut instinct might be right.
I remember about a year ago, when picking up one of Matthew's friends from his school, that friend and a few other kids from that school were out on the basketball court playing an impromptu game of soccer. The kids threw their backpacks down as goal posts and just started playing. Seth, who's probably seen soccer being played in Ethiopia but who had never played it himself, watched them intently...head lowered, eyes following every move the boys made while he stood at the sidelines. One of the boys invited Seth to join in but he was a little on the shy side. But suddenly, one of the boys kicked the ball way out of range and, like a shot, Seth was after the ball to retrieve it. To my shock, he deftly maneuvered the ball with his feet and, though clearly untrained, demonstrated amazing foot-eye coordination as he got the ball back to the other guys and put the ball back into play. It was the most natural thing in the world for him. He was invited again to join the other boys and this time he leaped into the fray and in the few minutes that followed, my eyes were riveted to the way he managed his body and the ball. He demonstrated a grace that isn't always apparent in our day-to-day lives. :) That picture has stayed in my head for the past year and I've known for a while that we'd want to offer him greater exposure in the right forum, when the timing was right.
I think the timing is right now for that introduction to soccer and it appears that this week's camp might just be the right forum. It somehow feels right, too, to be involving the boys in soccer because soccer is such a big deal in Ethiopia...this feels pretty natural...a given. Matthew's enthusiasm is a little less than Seth's, but we expected that - Matthew's more of a home body and pushing him too hard is risky because it can readily backfire with him (particularly given the heat wave that they've been outside in all day this week while playing), but he's learning skills and we should know for him, too, after this week, whether or not he'd be interested in a once- or twice-a-week commitment over the coming winter. I'm excited for both of them.
Anyway, we'll see how the week concludes but signs are positive so far that soccer is a hit. And in the meantime, it's sure lovely to have a whole lot of mother-daughter time! :)