I believe in the unity of sports.
Hi. I’m 13 years old and I play soccer. My story is this:
It was spring soccer season registration. My sister was signing up for her soccer season and I was tagging along. I marched my way into that crowded cafeteria with a mission. I wore my sisters’ old uniform and her old soccer shoes that were two sizes too big for me. I had been pleading for my dad to sign me up for a team, any team. He knew that I was really willing to put in the effort, but he also knew that I was too young.
Then something unexpected happened. A coach saw me begging on my knees to be on a team. He walked up to my dad and said,
“How old is she?”
“3”, he answered
“Well, she can sign up for my team.”
I haven’t stopped playing since.
I remember a few moments of my soccer history, like one season when my interleague team one every single game when I was about eight, and only getting scored on once, in the last ten minutes of the last game of the season. Another is this last season, when we were undefeated again, and having the greatest “goals to goals scored on” differential. In those two seasons I felt something that I’ve never felt before. It’s hard to explain. I would step out on the field with eleven friends, and we would become one body. We played as a whole, trusting that each part of the field was covered by someone who could move the ball up without any problems. I would have trusted those players with my lives if I had to. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even have to look back to know that someone was there, watching my back. In my 13 years of living, I’ve never felt that kind of unity in anything else that I’ve ever done.
The scary thing is that we had so many distinct people on that team. They come from very different homes, backgrounds, and beliefs. Most of the girls on my team were people that I didn’t really hang out with in school. Most of them I didn’t know half as well as you would think, but that team of very different girls could morph into one body and rely on each other to beat the other team.
Many people sat that soccer unites the world, especially in the world cup. I agree. But if soccer unites the people watching the game, imagine how soccer unites the people in the game.
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