which football do you prefer?

When my son Jack was younger, I signed him up for soccer because I loved it as a kid and still do.


It made sense because he goes to an international school where soccer is like religion, like it is in most countries.


It’s also the most popular sport in the world (please reply to this email if you disagree, or fly to Brazil to see what I mean).




 

I used to manage the sports for development office at UNICEF and was so lucky to run all the global sports partnerships.


That meant FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, MLS, NBA, FIVB (volleyball), ICC (cricket), and other sports you may not even have heard of.


My main job was to use sports in child protection and education programs in developing countries.


But I also got to go to the Olympics, the World Cup, and watch teams like Manchester United play at Old Trafford….but I digress since by now you may be wondering how could I possibly leave this dream job I still dream about?


I left because, as some of you know, my twin babies were born and they became my priority. I’ve never second guessed this decision and I rarely look back except for a) when the FIFA World Cup is about to begin (it started TODAY!!) and b) whenever I watch my son Jack play soccer.


Back in the day, Jack played goalie which made me so nervous that I could barely talk to my fellow NYC soccer parents. As an aside, please sympathize with them since it ain’t easy raising a kid athlete in NYC especially because fields are like 1:45 hours away no matter what neighborhood you live in.


On a particular cold November day, after a particularly cold and far away game, Jack said to me, “Mommy, I don’t want to play soccer anymore. I just want to play it for fun.”


There was this small part of me that was like, “No, you’re just saying that!! Come on! You’re good! You just hate the drives! The early mornings! You can’t quit!”


But I paused and looked at him (his blue eyes will get me every time, plus he’s my youngest) and I said, “I totally get it Jack. Let’s finish the season and find something else.”


Years later, I think I made the right choice.




 

While I do notice how much he loves to show off his foot skills when he plays pick up soccer with his friends, what I notice more is that he found a sport he really loves.


Football.


The other kind of football, tackle football. The Tom Brady kind that means helmets and shoulder pads. The football that becomes background music in my home on Sundays and Mondays throughout the fall.


He found this sport on his own and he loves it.


Not only does he love it, he’s good at it! Every time I wake up my little peanut on an early Sunday morning to play, he’s eager and ready to go (and if you think soccer field times are hard to find in NYC, try being a tackle football player in this concrete jungle).



 

Every time I see his little but growing body run out there onto the field into a sea of pre-teens, some 4’11” and others 6’2, I’m in awe at his confidence and dedication.


All I had to do is let him lead and find his own path.


In doing so, I had to get out of his way.


The truth is, I am scared when I see all those young men jump on top of one another, especially if he’s at the bottom holding the ball.


But the greater truth is that when he is happy and confident, I am too.


With fierce love,
Alison

Share this Entry