I woke up this morning to the sounds of my 2 yr old daughter shouting, “Soccer! Its time for soccer!”
I dragged my self out of bed, got my son ready for the day, helped my daughter get ready for the day, and turned on Telemundo. All of my prep about the World Cup was paying off. My daughter is a soccer fan.
You see I grew up living soccer. In the summer I went to soccer camp, in the fall I played outdoor soccer, and in the spring I played indoor soccer. Everyone I knew loved soccer. My parents, my uncles, my classmates. One year, for every goal a girl on my team scored, she was rewarded with a soccer themed Barbie doll. Movies like “The Big Green” and “Bend it Like Beckham” were very popular. When I was thirteen I had to choose between joining a traveling team and going on a church trip. When I was 19 I went to Germany for the World Cup when it was held there. And I always hoped to pass on my love of the beautiful game to my children.
As if learning about a fun sport wasn’t enough, other families can learn by following soccer. Here are some of the benefits our children can gain from watching the World Cup this year.
They can learn about other cultures
I don’t know if you know this, but in many places of the world, people joke that Americans are horrible when it comes to world geography. This year the World Cup is being held all over Russia. Do your children know where to find Russia on the map? They can! Get them excited about the locations where the players are playing. As if that wasn’t enough, why not ask your kids to discover things about the teams home countries?
Some things they can discover:
-When are children in this country in school?
-What is a holiday or festival unique to this place in the world?
-Who are the heroes of children in this country?
They can learn about good sportsmanship
So much of good sportsmanship is about your attitude off the field. Every November my family goes to the bowling alley and when its not our turn, we encourage the children to cheer on for the other members of the family. Soccer is the same way. While your children are sitting there on the sofa, they can learn the names of the players and cheer them on. If you have two children, and their home country is not involved in the game, you can have each child take a team and root them on. Why? Because at the end of the game the players have to shake hands and tell each other they did a good job. That is good sportsmanship. When the competition is over, one side is supposed to call the other side and say, congratulations on your victory. That is a life lesson our children can learn from soccer.
They can learn that winning is fun, but its not everything
In today’s day and age we value winning under any circumstances. We can say, ‘That other team will not win, I will not let them win,” as much as we want, but the truth is, they might win. When Japan beat my mother’s country, Colombia, I was disappointed. But in that disappointment, I was able to show my children how an adult ought to behave when she does not get her way. We can teach them that the experience matters. How we play along the way matters. So often we tell each other that life is about the journey, not the destination. The World Cup is a platform we can use to teach our children this idea.
So that’s what I hope my children take away from soccer. What about you? Are you into the World Cup? Who do you hope wins? We’d love to hear from you!