Wednesday, June 16, 2010 much more than just a sport!

I can't think of  a better time in the  year to share this with all of you, so much of what is going on right now involves soccer! Yes, that's right, the Soccer World Cup is going on and it is a world event. So many cultures share the passion of this sport, and it is the one thing that so many countries have in common. For so many cultures, soccer is more than just a sport, it is a bonding time in the neighborhood, in the community. I remember growing up in South America and just playing soccer with the other kids in the neighborhood in any open space we could find. We didn't have a fancy field, we didn't even have goal posts but we have each other and we knew how to have FUN.

As our Hispanic English language learner population grows here in the United States, so does the love and popularity for this sport as well. Here is what I have noticed while I'm on duty on the playground: our kids are playing soccer everyday...regardless of where they are from, regardless of their skills and endurance, they are out there playing soccer every day. It has become so popular during recess time, and I believe this is a wonderful thing that unites children. As this sport increase in popularity at recess time, so does the behavior problems. Why? very simple: they're becoming passionate about the sport and they haven't quite been taught the rules of the games. They are learning as they go, as they play.  And here's is when our role as educators come into play: I saw this as an opportunity to address the issues by teaching them the rules, and starting to develop a sense of TEAM in our young players.

Columbus Crew Soccer Team won the MSL Cup in 2008 and since then the love for this game has grown so much in this city! I contacted our amazing Columbus Crew and explained the situation in our school, my vision and expectations  and the reasons for why I would love for a visit to our school. I have to say working and coordinating this event with Robin has been such a wonderful experience. They are all so supportive of schools, and so professional about what they do!

And so it happened...just like magic, our dear Beechwood Elementary welcomed two players from the Columbus Crew: Eric Brunner and Kenni Schoeni. I have coordinated with them the important issues and topics that I was hoping they would address to our children and they were very receptive to our needs. Both players talked about their passion for soccer but most important they emphasized the sense of team playing over and over. Our students needed to hear this message loud and clear: it is not about shinning individually in soccer, it's about shinning as a team, playing together to reach a common goal.
They accepted questions from our audience, and then they demonstrated some of the basic soccer skills.  They were absolutely FANTASTIC. Our students  listened to them so carefully, they felt so lucky to be the ones welcoming such amazing players. Not only they had a chance to meet them and get free tickets to the Kicks for Kids game but they also had a chance to practice those basic skills with the players.

All in all: an unforgettable experience for our students in Whitehall City School and for our staff as well. And may I just add that the behavior soccer issues decreased after their visit?? YES! I thought you would be interested in learning that as well. :-) Because taking their soccer away at recess time was not the answer to the problem, it will be like taking a big part of their culture away. Soccer= culture! Enjoy the journey!


Brian Mull said...

Very well expressed. It was a pleasure to read this post. My son has been in soccer since he was 4 (he's 11 now).It has been great for him as both a physical and mental experience.

This past year, his team didn't win a single game, and the teams passion often drifted away. But there's nothing like the off season to bring the love back. He's ready to go.

Learning to lose and learning to win with grace AS A TEAM is a great life lesson.

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