" You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself " - A Buddhist Saying
Copyright 2018 - An Unrestrained Stream - All Rights Reserved
"Once I was seven years old, my mama told me,
Go make yourself some friends or you'll be lonely.
Once I was seven years old....."
The song resonated raucously in my car. We had heard this Lukas Graham hit many a times in my car's radio before but today was differently. My son sitting in the back seat was singing along with him. The humor behind a seven year old singing that song at the top of his voice did not escape me. A smile escaped me as I looked in the rear view mirror to catch a glimpse of the budding singer. In the last (nearly) three years I had taken many a rides such as this. Today was different. It was the first time had taken him to a soccer game where I would just watch him. In all previous seasons I had always been in the field with him as I was also his team's coach. Looking back I can't help but marvel how fortunate I have been to accumulate memories during the last three years. I have seen tentative kickers and "toe blowers" morph into soccer maestros who in their minds can bend it like Beckham. I have watched crying kids who would refuse to leave the field when substituted high five their replacements. I have viewed swarms of bodies around the ball and then one fine day figure it out how to beat the rush with a sudden burst of individual brilliance. I have seen tantrums - many more than I would have liked to!. I have observed and absorbed lessons - some knowingly, some unconsciously. Its fair to say that I have learnt more from them than they have from me. In six season I tried to teach them soccer, they helped me (re) learn the way to a fulfilling life. Here are some situations that have left an indelible mark on me....
Rain or Shine - You win when you show up!
The weather is typical of a wet spring day with heavy rain predicted later on. We are gathered in the parking lot and discussing whether we should continue or call off play today.
Kid 1 - "Its starting to rain again! I love playing in the rain."
Kid 2 - "My Dad said its going to thunderstorm a lot and the game is going to get cancelled".
Kid 3- "Its just a drizzle. My Dad says its going to stop soon!"
It drizzles the entire time but we play nevertheless. Only 8 kids show up from both teams and we play 4 vs 4. The thunderstorms never arrive.. The game is full of slips, slides and great plays! Everyone who shows up marvels at the amount of fun it is to play in the rain!
Talking is easy when you are big - Objectivity is the key!
The opposition's best and fastest player makes a solo dash from one end to the other. He leaves behind four of our five in his wake.
I scream - "Griffin! You have to challenge their guy with the ball. Get in front of him! Block! don't just run with him."
Griffin - "I am trying but he is too fast"
He shoots and scores!
Me - "You have to run faster and get in front of him!"
Griffin (slightly emotional) - "Its easy for you to say because you are big!"
From that moment onward I started to become more cognizant of each players strengths and weaknesses. I would treat each one on their raw ability rather than my expectation of it.
When the going gets tough - (sometimes) you just have to do it alone...
We are 3-0 down within the first 4 minutes of the game. I see a few drooping shoulders already. I know its going to be a long game.
Me calling out my star player - I need you to pass when you are surrounded by 3 defenders. You can't do it alone. It does not work. We need to work as a team today.
Sam - I get it.
Next play as soon as Sam gets the ball, he weaves around five players and scores. His sheepish but proud smile tells it all "sometimes you just have to do it alone". I stopped asking him to pass again in that game as he got into "beast mode". He probably scored 6 more in that game!
Slow down - look up and set your goals.
Julian dribbles the ball around 2 players. He has an empty goal but does not kick it in. He keeps moving towards the goal and eventually loses it by over dribbling it into a defender.
Me - Julian you had an empty goal in front of you when beat two defenders . Why did you not shoot into goal?
Julian - I did not see it. I was going too fast and I did not see the open goal.
How many times does this happen to us. We get mired in our daily lives that we forget to look up! If only we did - we will see the goals we aspire to is already and in front of us - to be taken a shot at!
Success tastes best when shared - its all about the team!
Ishaan dribbles past everyone and waits till Declan catches up to him. He sidesteps and Declan kicks and scores. Declan is ecstatic! The whole team surrounds Declan who does his best "Cam Newton" impersonation!
After the game when we sat and munched into our snacks Ishaan told us why he did it - "I wanted Declan to score his first goal". His simple answer had so much depth that he did not realize.
Those words continue to keep me inspired....