I leave school and I still have homework to do; it’s been a hard day, but it’s not over yet. I have training. I walk very slowly to the school bus that will take me home while my classmate tells me that he just got extra points in his new video game. During the ride home, he spends forty minutes telling me all about his plans after school – he will go swimming at another friend’s house and afterwards, he will still have time left to play video games at his cousin’s house; I’m finding it hard to stay awake and suddenly he asks me:
“Why do you play soccer?”
After a few seconds thinking about his question, I finally answer quietly: “I don’t know”.
My classmate gets off the bus running and energetically jumps all four steps off the bus in one jump, while i can barely carry my backpack full of books. It seems that he is in a hurry to enjoy his video game filled afternoon. It really makes me doubt if I even like soccer or not. But then, I see my father, parked in the same corner as always, waiting for me with a sandwich and juice. I’m not sure why, but I’m glad to see him there – it never fails. He gets up at 5 in the morning and doesn’t take a lunch break so he can finish work in time to spend time with me.
I walk up to the car and someone calls my name from the other side; it’s my teammate who has just gotten off his school bus that drops him off nearby. In spite of how tired I am, we excitedly greet each other with our secret handshake. My father smiles while shaking his head. We open the trunk to leave our backpacks and there they are: our team bags ready with our soccer gear for today’s training. On the side of the backpack I see my cleats and out of nowhere, I start feeling energy rush through my legs. Where did this energy come from?
Despite the forty minutes of travel, the ride to training seems very short; my friend and I share funny stories from our day at school and laugh at jokes that a teammate said the day before. My father doesn’t get our jokes. At this point, my classmate is probably already riding his bike or playing his new video games.
We arrived at the soccer field and ran without really knowing why; there are still thirty minutes left until our training session starts but my teammate and I race to see who gets to the bench first! We smile without knowing, but the fun has already begun.
On the field, we see that the today’s training session is all set up: it looks like a labyrinth of cones. All of the coaches of every level greet us by name and leave us the balls so that we can play freely before starting work.
Different coats, I touched the blue and my travel partner the yellow. We are going to be training rivals and while the coach explains the conditions of the game we can not stop looking at ourselves and smiling. The duel is about to begin.
Exhausted! I can not stand it anymore and my partner is stretched out on the floor. The training is over and I know that I have learned. Today was the control oriented to protect the ball from an immediate pressure of the rival. I already know how to keep possession of the ball and I know my partner also because I have barely managed to steal the ball.
On the way to the car, we are commenting on part of the team wanting to play tomorrow’s game. We are not only going to put into practice what we have learned today. Tomorrow we will learn to compete through everything learned in recent months, because as in life, game by game, day by day we learn to compete individually to improve at the group level.
On the way home, my teammate asks me in the car. Why are you smiling? Because I already know the reason why I play football!