May 12, 2012

Five things soccer has taught me about life

This might by gasp-inducing for an Aussie, but for the typical Malaysian Chinese, sports isn't very big. For some, yes, to cheer on a club, or to gawk at cute players, and to bet on come World Cup season, but for most, it isn't as important as more, err, economically important activities.

Hubs and I have never been to a game. I've never played sports on a team, not even in school. We don't watch any games on tv. The great thing about being an expat however, is the ability to throw whatever you know as the norm aside, and just immerse yourself in a new culture and experiences. This we did, by enrolling the kids in soccer, and getting involved ourselves by volunteering (a bit reckless, I must say, given our limited knowledge!) 

After spending a few Saturdays at the side of a pitch, I must say, I'm loving it! It has occured to me that there are many life lessons in sports :

1) Life is short, just go for it.
Number One tends to be sensitive about a lot of stuff, and wary and worried about dissapointment. While counselling him one day, an analogy came to me:
" Remember how Jack ran up to the goal post, kicked and almost got the ball in, except that the ball bounced off the post? He was devastated, wasn't he? If he doesn't try, he will never be devastated. But I guarantee you, he will never feel the exhilaration of scoring a goal either."

2) Life goes on.
You fall down, you get up, you brush off the dirt and you walk on.

3) Keep at it, and the tough will get going
Number One - how do I put this nicely - isn't athletically inclined. Because he knows he isn't good at it, his lack of confidence holds him back even more. Hubs and I internally wailed in despair when we watched him play and train.
But surprise, surprise... he's getting a bit better! You never know what you can do, until you try, try, and try again.

4) You can be competitive while not being self-centred.
You will find parents clapping for the other team when a goal is scored. It's a strange combination of "awwwwww!" for your own team and claps for the opposing team at the same time.  (There are ultra competitive teams however, and I think they miss the fact that these are kids at play!)

5) Passion should always be applauded
The kids have a very passionate coach. He's forever lending his time and efforts to the game and the kids and parents are very fond of him. To the unitiated, sports seems to be so much fuss over nothing. To the practical(read: economic)-minded, it's a waste of time.
I've watched this coach - how he wants the kids to love the game as much as he does, how the game matters more than the score or the acknowledgement; and I have concluded that love and selfnesses is always a beautiful thing.

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