Amidst the mad preparations for our trip, I still attended Gabriel's soccer game this afternoon. My plan was to drop him off and come back, but it was just too fun and I ended up staying for the whole thing
It's fun despite the fact that it's not altogether a competitive game. My Las Madres friend who coaches the team we played last week was there again, and she confirmed for me that a few outstanding players can totally change the game, and that our coach's son is really really good. He belongs in a competitive league really, it's almost silly for him, and everyone else, for him to be playing at this level.
But even when #8 isn't in the game, or is goalkeeper, a few other really good teammates blow away the competition, and that's kind of a shame.
Gabriel is seriously outclassed in terms of skill and ball manipulation compared to his teammates, he doesn't understand the rules of the game (offsides, anyone?), he's by far the smallest, and for once, he's not the fastest. But being as objective as I can be, he is among the most tenacious and confident relative to his lack of experience. I was really, really proud to see how hard he worked, how he was always in the action, how he always called to get the ball passed to him, even if he didn't entirely know what to do when he got it.
I know that watching soccer video is pretty dull to others, but being there and watching was really fun and exciting -- so much action, so much change, so much physicality. (Are girls like this in soccer too?!)
A long rally in which Gabriel (#2) is right in there, the ball goes back and forth. I love the moment when #8 trips, but gets the ball free by kicking it behind him. You can hear Gabriel's coach (who pronounces Gabriel's name "Gah-bri-elle") calling "SKILLS!".
Eventually the inevitable breakaway happens and #8 makes a run on the goal, handily evading his opponents. This time, the poor purple team's goalie stopped it, and we all cheered. (Gabriel's team is in light blue.)
A short clip in which Gabriel and Ivan (awesome #8) are swarmed by the opposing team, and some of their teammates are just walking! Eventually a purple opponent kicks it clear of the traffic.
It got so that our coach told his son to quit scoring -- if the game is too skewed, the refs stop it. His son, despite being such a good player, is still just a little boys, and started to cry in frustration. He sat out the second half, sulking, until the second-best player got hurt (nothing serious but he couldn't play anymore) and #8 was back in, still with orders not to score. "Why can't I SCOOORE?!!!" he wailed. He walked around hanging his head at first, but he couldn't resist joining the game.
The opposing team played hard, then scored a goal. So #8 Ivan (pronounced Ee-VOHN, Serbian parents) was told, OK, you can score now. Within 5 minutes, he scored 3 times.
I'm torn between totally enjoying watching Gabriel's terrific teammates, and wondering if this is really Gabriel's best intro to soccer. He needs to learn a little about losing!! Then again, it's probably good for him to be surrounded by much better players, to keep his lofty ego in check and force him to play at a much higher level.
This soccer-mom thing is a blast! But now it's time to go be camping Mom. See you next week!