Having been working in the football industry for over 18 months now, I had never had the real Football experience from a mother’s point of view. I had no idea what parents think when taking their children to a football academy… as I only had a marketeer’s view point but not a mother one.
Now as for my son, Mike, 5 years old, with a mother that accidentally decided to dedicate her professional career to football, being half Portuguese and having enjoyed being the European Champion at the age of 3, I suspected that he would want to play football… and so it happened. In fact, we haven’t spoken of anything else since he turned 4. Literally!
And finally, he made it this year despite some reluctancy from our side. And I must say the football experience has been one from which we are all learning… a lot. Mike and the rest of us as a family.
Working in the industry I notice all the details: firstly, came in an e-mail the week before practice started. Only two mandatory items: WATER AND SHIN GUARDS. Health and Safety! Safety and comfort! Things we all we stand for at SAK. I start to like this…!
What I also realized is that football is a truly inclusive sport at these early stages. Girls and boys play together – no segregation, same treatment: if you make the right move you are great if you make not such a nice move… well you need to practice more. Nothing more to it.
Kids come from all backgrounds, all religions, all nationalities. Wearing Brazilian, German, Swiss, Portuguese, French t-shirts and still playing for the same team. One thing in common: passion! It is fascinating to see the drive and the motivation of these kids. It’s amazing for their social skills and exposure to other cultures. Respect for other people’s preferences, tastes and beliefs (and we are in such need of these values these days).
Secondly, I must say that the healthy competitiveness and the focus are quite astounding. The will to run as fast as possible and make the best pass, dribble or goal. The excitement to feel like Ronaldo, Messi, Shaqiri or Pogba are truly impressive. Result-driven approach from these youngsters.
Equally inspiring is the quick understanding from kids at this age that it’s all about the team. The understanding that each one of them alone might be limiting factor for the team – as none of them is a star just yet - but that if they leverage each other’s strengths each one becomes a valuable asset. It is the first time I hear my son saying “Sven plays so well, he is much better than me and I am learning from him”. At 5. It’s such a quick path to realize that there are so many great people out there… but that what makes them truly great is the whole, the team, the way they interact and support each other. Teamwork lessons at their best, way before they need to navigate the corporate world!
And I notice the parents. Reflecting their children, obviously, they come from all parts of the world: they work in the biggest pharmaceuticals of the world, run a small restaurant, are tram drivers... The way their eyes shine, if their kid makes a goal or a terrific defense, is exactly the same. They too are living the dream! I do too! Not because we want our children to become professional footballers… but because we see the happiness, the excitement, the thrill of getting better each day. The steep learning curve and the adrenaline of getting to that pitch every week thinking, today is my day!
A friend, also writing for our blog, witnessed my reluctancy towards football at this age and told me it would be amazing for Mike. He couldn’t have been more right. I had certainly read about it, but I had not lived this. I can see it now. It’s not possible to mention the number of soft skills kids develop through football, while having fun and playing what they love the most. We have just begun our journey into football, and with children we don’t know how long it will last, but we already feel we are giving him such a great opportunity to grow with the right values from the start, that the experience is worth it already. I am converted.
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