In 2009, I wrote this post about Owen's first foray into organized soccer. At the time he was only 4 years old and his "training" consisted of 1 1/2 hours of play every Saturday morning. It was just enough to get him interested and starting to understand the basic point of the game. Looking back at those pictures, I can't believe how tiny he was!
Last year, I followed up with another post about Owen's experiences on his new team. This time, the coach was the PE teacher from the girls' school (now Owen's school, too.) Owen practiced once a week and then played on Saturdays with his team in a league sponsored by the municipality. It was another good experience which introduced him to competitive play without going overboard.
This year, we continued with the team and Owen moved up from being the littlest tagalong to more of a contributing member. While he definitely wouldn't be described as a "driven" player, he still does his best and for the most part does it cheerfully. Occasionally his personal trainer (aka, Daddy) has to remind him to keep his head in the game and keep moving, but a few times he's had some great plays which are a lot of fun to watch.
A few weeks ago, I was in the cheering section sending play by plays via text message to Pedro. At one point Owen was the only player ahead of the pack and the ball came his direction. He took it and ran with it straight to the goal. I could tell he was being careful to maintain control, so he did not run as fast as I knew he could. There was one opposing team player tracking him and he was able to catch up with Owen just before the goal, tripping him and sending him to the ground. The player got a red card and Owen's team got a free kick (taken by another teammate) which resulted in a goal for the team! It was quite the exciting moment. :)
In Latin America, soccer is "the" sport and so this opportunity benefits Owen not only physically but also socially as he is able to relate to his peers with a shared enthusiasm and ability. Our goal (no pun intended) is not to train a "soccer star" (despite the title of this post) but to give him an outlet which he enjoys and which also boosts his self-esteem and gives him a healthy way to fit in among other boys his age. So far, so good! We are very proud of our special little boy.