Making Selects

In our household it is all soccer all the time, not from my end but from my eldest daughters. She LOVES the game and will play year round if given the opportunity. Her career goal is to be a professional soccer player or perhaps an Olympian so moving up in the ranks is very important to her. Where she acquired this drive to excel in soccer certainly did not come from me.

This year is especially important to this progress because our local soccer guru’s start to stream off the select group of kids to play in an elite league for the rest of their youth. Many parents take this even more seriously than the kids because success in this league can lead to a free post secondary education in the form of a NCAA scholarship. The amount of time some of these kids spend preparing for the selection process is astounding. With games, practices, tournaments and clinics, some of these kids spend more time on the soccer pitch then they do in school. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, depending on how you look at it, my wife and I didn’t think it was necessary to give our eleven year old daughter as much pitch time as some of her peers. At this point in her life, we figured that if she was going to make it to selects, she should be able to do it without “training” for it.

At seasons end however, my daughter did not get an invitation to the final two selection camps as she did not  fair too well during the scouting process. My wife and I were really quite worried what her reaction would be but the cool thing was that she didn’t seem to care!?  There were no tears, or pouts, she took it like a champ. Instead, in its place, was a steely resolve to go to the final selection camp as a walkon and make the cut and that is what she did.

She played with heart and determination and managed to impress the coaches just enough to make the grade. She showed that she loves the game and plays with heart if not refined skill like the chosen ones. She showed that she was there because she wanted it not because she had trained for it.

As our younger child approaches the selection year, the question now is, do we send her to all the preperatory camps and clinics to avoid the same situation or do we change things up? The answer is, that my wife and I will not seek out opportunities for her to play over and above the regular season. If she wants to play badly enough, she will follow in the steps of her sister and show that playing a sport is more than how much time you spend preparing. Heart and determination is the first order of athleticism and at 11 years old this is what is most important.

Most importantly though, is that this experience gave us the opportunity to teach some life lessons to our oldest daughter.

  • Nothing in life gets handed to you.
  • Dissapointment can be a positive motivator.
  • Determination and heart are more important than just skill.

The next 7 years however will be a different story. If she wants to stay in selects she will have to attend the camps, clinics, tournaments and spend hours on the pitch but that is the nature of sport. First comes the desire, then comes the skill development.

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