As background for this post, I recommend reading a prior post entitled: "On Living with Mild CP" which will explain why this is about "so much more than soccer!"
|Following her coach's directions|
Recently God provided the opportunity for Isabel to join a girls' soccer team through our county recreational leagues in Michigan. It is a short spring season - just three or four weeks - but enough to make her one very happy little girl.
In fact, she is fulfilling a dream.
|practicing control of the ball|
Whether through watching her brother play or simply enjoying the nature of the sport, Isabel has long pleaded for an opportunity to play herself. Unfortunately, in Chile soccer still leans heavily to the male gender and female teams are few and far between. I have even had Chilean mothers remark to me that they really wouldn't want their daughters playing soccer because "it's not very feminine!"
|ready for the kick|
While we would gladly have provided Isabel this opportunity were it available, the only possibilities we encountered in Iquique were co-ed teams playing on cement soccer courts. As her parents, we felt that sending Isabel into that situation was irresponsible and unsafe. Our daughter, however, failed to understand our logic and simply felt the rejection that too-often has accompanied her involvement in physical education and sports as a result of her mild CP. Our hearts ached for her but we felt that in this situation her protection was paramount.
|putting her best foot forward|
The wind was bitterly cold the evening of Isabel's first soccer practice in Michigan, but even the weather couldn't dampen her enthusiasm. She was nervous but thrilled, and when the coach welcomed her to the team she was nothing but smiles.
|that #7 is our favorite girl|
I, on the other hand, was happy for her but felt my mother's instincts on high alert. Would the other girls accept her? Could she keep up with the drills? Was this to be highly competitive, or (hopefully) fun and laidback? Slowly my fears eased as I watched my sweet girl join her peers in passing, kicking, throwing and dribbling the soccer ball down the field. She seemed to be making friends and having a great time. And she was not afraid to get right in there! Running tired her but she did her best to keep up, always with a smile and deep concentration. She was a soccer player, after all!
|getting right into the action|
"May she forever be encouraged and delighted to pursue whatever her heart desires."
Those words were written to me by a young college student who herself has "a little bit of an extra challenge" (as she describes it) due to mild cerebral palsy and its effects on her daily endeavors. She first encouraged me with this when we were struggling with the decision not to allow Isabel to play on the mixed teams and hard courts in Chile, and at the time I was torn because I felt I was not following such poignant advice. We promised our daughter then that as soon as the right opportunity came by, we'd make sure she could take part. And now it's finally here.
Which is why these pictures are so much more than snapshots of sweet little girls on a soccer field. They are so much more than memories, though we will certainly cherish them. Instead, they are another reminder that sometimes we are limited only by our own lack of dreams and faith in the One who makes them come true.
So my daughter teaches me to dream, and my Heavenly Father teaches me to trust. What greater blessings could I ask!