The Family That Kicks Together, Sticks Together

Every four years in mid June, the world unites.  Well most of the World.   The world unites to enjoy soccer, football for everyone outside of the US, on its biggest stage.  The World Cup.  I have seen qualifying matches in the states with my dad. (1997 USA v El Salvador)  And have seen World Cup matches with my sons in person.  (1994 Qtr Final Brazil v Netherlands)  I can recall the first game I saw live on closed circuit TV in 1970.  (Brasil v Italy finals)  And I recall the first movie I saw of the World Cup.  (England v West Germany 1966)  And they are all great memories.  But only the tip of the iceberg.

The World Cup also takes place during/on Father’s Day, here in the US.  And in my humble opinion, that is very fitting.  At least it is for me.  One who had three sons who have played the game, and with my soccer beginnings and playing career being influenced greatly by my father.  Nothing against the Mothers who have influenced the Beautiful Game, but I am speaking from my experiences here.  Although my Mother was one of the best cheerleaders on the sidelines for her sons and the teams they played on, it is the bind between my father and I that the game of soccer forged to make stronger.  And the same bond exists with my three sons, Blake, Drew and Tyler.

Yes, the World Cup, and the game of Soccer, unites.  The World.  And Families.

A few years ago on Fathers Day, the boys and I went to a field and kicked the ball around.  Small sided games.  “Three-post”.  Fun stuff.  Then we came back home, watched a World Cup game on TV, had a beverage or two, and Diana made us some snacks.  Perfect.  Perfect Father’s Day or any day.

We have played together.  Watched each other.  Cheered and jeered together.  Made lifetime friends and a few others who may hold a grudge for something that happened on the field.  Soccer has allowed us to celebrate wins, try to forget losses, and to this day we can laugh, cry and make fun of one another.

Last summer Drew and I kicked a ball on an amazing field in Brooklyn that jutted out into the harbor, surrounded by water on three sides and a net that was not quite high enough!  Oops!

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Then in the fall Blake, Tyler and I kicked around on a pitch in Oslo, Norway…with Jenn joining in as well.

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Soccer has taken each one of us to places we never dreamed of.  Physically and emotionally…almost spiritually at times.  (and perhaps it took us to the police station…at least a few of us)

And it also is partially responsible for my 37 years of a beautiful marriage to Diana!  We initially met when she drove her brother, Craig, to a soccer camp he was attending and I was a camp instructor.

A few years ago, Tyler gave me a book entitled, “More Than A Game”, by Chuck Korr and Marvin Close.  It is an amazing true story about soccer and apartheid.  And illustrates how the game of soccer can bring people together under horrible conditions.  And change lives.

So imagine what the game can do under more ideal situations.

Bring people together.  Bring families together.  Spread love and joy and happiness.

In his final game,  the legendary player Pelé gave a brief pre-match speech during which he asked the crowd to say the word “love” with him three times.

Makes a lot of sense to me.  Especially since the game can bring a lot of love to those who allow it to do so.

I have.  My family has.  And I am glad we do.

Go USA.  I believe!

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