Falling in love with the Beautiful Game

Primo and his Scottish Coach

It has been a busy summer and I have been negligent in documenting the highs and lows and goings on of our family. For the last two weeks the boys have been away with their grandparents, first with my parent at soccer camp and then with Beautiful’s parents in an RV from Seattle to Indiana. We have been kidless in Portland and living it up like we did while dating in Santa Barbara. There are stories to share and thoughts to expound on in good time but first this one:

Primo has become pretty consumed with soccer this summer starting with a day camp at the local community center with friends. He loved the four hours a day learning the game and fair play and after the camp was over he wanted to play soccer all day. A couple of weeks ago he had the chance to attend an intense all week soccer camp in my parents home town. There were coaches from all over the world and kids aged 6 to 16 participating all day for five days. A couple of the coaches were staying with my parents as well so Primo tried to get them to play even after a full day of learning, running, and tackling. Boy did he love tackling. After the first day he was called up for recognition for being one of the campers of the day. The camp was tied into my parents church and he learned his memory verses after a couple of days as well.

On the last day of camp we all got the chance to see him play and since he was heading out on the epic RV trip across half the country the next day all of his grandparents and two cousins were there to cheer him on. First they had skill competitions to see who had the best shot and which kid could get through the obstacles while dribbling the ball. It was during this skill portion where we saw a glimpse into Primo’s development during the week. There was a penalty shoot out to see who the best goal scorer was and some kids volunteered to be goalies. Primo was the third kid to step into the net, each getting five shots before making way for the next keeper. The kids that made their shot went to one side and those that didn’t went to the other as they weeded out the misses one by one. The first two keepers blocked a shot here and there but mostly the kids went through to the made line to continue the competition. Primo stepped into the box and proceeded to block four of five shoots, with one kick save that had the crowd gasping. The next time his turn came up there were only six kids left to shoot and he blocked the shots of the first five before walking to the side to give another kid a chance. After some discussion it was ruled that he had to get back in the box because it wouldn’t be fair for the five kids he stone-walled if the other kid didn’t face him. Oh did I mention Primo was the smallest and youngest kid there? He turned six weeks before this camp and so just made the cut off. The last kid scored and was ruled the winner, and Primo gave him a hug and told him good job.

After the skills portion the teams gathered and they had a mini tournament to crown the best teams in each division. Primo’s division was kids aged 6-9 and they moved around to each position giving the kids a chance to play all over the field. Primo’s team was not very good and they lost all four of their games but damned if they didn’t have fun. Their Scottish coach was hilarious to hear on the sideline imploring some of the kids to stop picking flowers and move to the ball. There were two games where Primo was in the goal and a couple of moments where I could not believe what I was seeing. In one game the other team had a big 9-year-old girl who had grown much bigger than the rest of the kids her age and as she was on a break away towards Primo in the goal she hit the ball a little far ahead of her and he came charging out of the goal to smother the ball just as she was about to shoot. She tripped over him and popped up and tried to kick the ball away. I thought for sure he was going to end up bleeding or at least crying. Another time he took a ball to the face on a powerful shot from a kid that was pretty good. Primo’s head snapped back from the impact and then he looked around for the ball, cleared it away, and then crouched down ready for the next shot. His coach yelled “alright Primo? you’re a legend son!” When he wasn’t in-goal he was tackling the ball away from kids much bigger and more skilled than him. He was called for a foul on one tackle where he slid in and took the ball cleanly sending the other kid flying. In any other game it was a good hard tackle but was understandably a foul at this age group.

All summer he had talked about taking shots and scoring goals but at this camp he had learned defense and had fallen in love with stopping others. He told me his favorite part was tackling blocking and I told him I was proud of him. When the games were over they had lost four and won none but they were happy and proud. They handed out awards for the skills competition and medals for the winning teams. One of the last awards they had was an unannounced award that they had been watching for all week. They had a trophy for the best goal keepers in each division and the first person they called was Primo. Shocked he ran up to the stage and grabbed his trophy as we all cheered like crazy. His smile could be seen from space it was so big.

Primo getting his trophy

Later we talked about the camp and he told me all about his trophy. He said it was because he was the best goalie on his team, and I told him no, it was because he was the best goalie on any of the teams in his division. Of all the kids 6 to 9 he was the best. I was so proud of him, not for winning an award or being the best, I was proud of him for all of the coaches that came up to me that day and told me what a joy it was to have Primo there. He jumped right in on the first day and didn’t come up for air until the end. I was told about how he encouraged other kids and never got frustrated at losing. I was told how volunteered to sit out so others could play in a big game even though his coach would rather have him stay in-goal. I was proud at how hard he worked at every aspect of the camp and seeing his face at the end nearly brought me to tears.

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