Saturday, September 11, 2010

Soccer 2010

Today was the first game of this soccer season. Zahra is playing for the Chili Peppers this year. She's now in the AYSO U8 division which means she's playing with girls that are 6 and 7 years old. Some of the girls on the team have definitely been playing for awhile and really understand the game well. After last year's experience with soccer, I was hesitant to sign her up again. She barely moved last year, paralyzed on the field with the fear of getting hit by the ball. Her head seemed up in the clouds or down in the grass, almost completely oblivious to the fact the game was happening around her. This year, when Willie and I asked her about signing up back in the spring, she seemed enthusiastic and excited, so we did it. Before team practices offically began, Willie started taking Zahra out to kick the soccer ball around. He ran through drills and had her practice dribbling and stopping the ball with her foot (as she so nicely demonstrates above). I think this was a great idea because it got her ready for some of the same things they'd be working on at practice. When I took her to her first practice, she did great. She listened to the coach, ran as fast as she could, followed all the directions, got into the game during a scrimmage, everything she needed to do. Her skills weren't as good as the other players, but she definitely earned an 'A' for effort. I thought this year we had turned things around and that this season would be totally different.
Then this happened. Zahra, immobile with fear, standing almost still as a statue on the soccer field again. My shoulders slumped, my hopes stared to wither. Everyone cheered her on and tried to encourage her. No change. For an entire quarter, she barely moved from the exact spot where the coach had placed her to defend. She didn't run to the ball, she didn't kick it if it rolled right in front of her. During a break, I asked her what was up. She said the field was bigger and that it made her nervous to have the ball coming towards her. I told her that she had shin guards and shoes on. I told her she wouldn't get hit in the face and if she did get hurt, we would take care of her. She asked if she could have a big prize if she was injured. I caved in and told her yes. She asked for one of those little motorized cars that kids can drive. I told her if she was hurt, we would definitely look into it. I just wanted her to play! After that and some more words of encouragement from a brother of one of the players, her attitude seemed to turn around. She never ended up making contact with the ball this game, but she started running towards it, following her team, sort of getting into it. That was way more than she did last season, so I'm hoping we're off to a better start. She does such a great job during scrimmages at practice, we just need to get her to do that on the field during the real games.
After the game, on the way to the car, Max and Zahra kicked the ball back and forth. Max already has quite the leg on him and we think he'd love to play, too. Just a couple more years and he can start playing on his own team.
In the end, our team lost the game (I think the score was 3-0), but most of the girls seemed to take it in stride. At one point, our goalie missed and the other team scored. The little girl seemed upset with herself for a minute, then she shook it off, and yelled, to no one in particular, "I'll try not to do that next time!" So hopefully Zahra will try better her next time. (We'll be out of town next week so we will be missing that game). At practice, she volunteered to keep the goal, so we'll see how that goes when she gets a turn. I'll keep you all posted...

1 comment:

  1. Well, she sure looks cute in her uniform! I wonder why she wants to play if she gets so scared. I can sure understand the scared part--I would have been terrified! I'm glad you guys are so patient with her. I notice her sidekick always has a little bag of treats handy! Auntie Sis