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Adventures of a soccer aunt

Sudbury Living Magazine June 10, 2013 Anna Barsanti No Comments on Adventures of a soccer aunt


What a difference a year makes! Leila has returned to soccer and with a strong sense of independence sprinkled with determination. Last year no way was she going on the field without me and as for the concept of the game, what concept? Soccer teams are picked at random, last year all new children in her circle – this year friends from her school and her life out of school are on the same team. A level of security, a sense of belonging comes with knowing others. Her social circle has grown to the point random teams bring known friends and the opportunity to increase the possibility of a broader foundation.


Her love of hockey, swimming and soccer brings a sense of comfort for me as the world of sports was my salvation as a child and remained a big part of my life until my mid-40s. The world of sports brings good people and hours occupied with healthy activity. Sports teach and build character. I watch Leila during the practices and witnessed her first soccer game this week. She is in her element, she participates well, she listens to the coach, and she supports her fellow athletes with cheers from the bench. A year ago there were glimpses of possibility that she was an athlete, now I see. She chose hockey over dance and proved the ice is where she belongs. Swimming is a necessary skill and I loved the water from the moment my father put me in the water as a baby – Leila is following suit. Soccer was to simply expose her to another game and keep her active. The key is to keep the balance free creative play with organized opportunities for her well-being and healthy development.


The odd time as I watch her I think about my love of sports as an athlete. I can remember taking swimming lessons and loving every minute in the water at Hiawatha Park. Later my father would get me up at 6 a.m. and drive me to swim practices. My mother had us in dance and I can remember being on stage in my tap shoes at my one and only recital looking feverishly for my mom in the audience. My father taught me how to catch a ball barehanded. My love a basketball and baseball were my connection to my mother as those were two sports she mastered as a young woman. My father and grandmother came to games during my 20’s. They were the team’s most favoured cheerleaders. Do we seek from our childhood memories to pass on to the children in our care intentionally for what we perceive is good?  Do we pass along from our childhood experiences that which is less than healthy and helpful because we haven’t done the healing or it is all we know?


Yesterday morning brought us to the pool for weekly lessons. Leila continues to prove swimming is a skill set she loves to develop. The heater in the pool was not working; Leila didn’t shiver once. She practised each stroke and skill with her usual aplomb. When asked if she wanted jump in one more time, she did it. According to her swimming lessons are too short. What do I take from this, continue to provide opportunities for her to build her skill set and nurture her enthusiasm. There may be a day when swimming is no longer her passion and when, if that day comes the sign is another passion has come that requires her attention.


The more interesting lesson followed swimming. Before we got into the car Leila noticed a “Y” stick, which she promptly brought over for me to inspect, contemplated whether or not yet another stick could be brought home, instead she threw it into the laneway. The “Y” stick fell randomly on the ground, Leila noticed a log in the shape of a “Y” and it was at the moment she ran to pick up her “Y” stick to place it gently by the “Y” log. You see they were the same shape and would be lonely if apart. She was clear because they were the same; they needed to be close to one another. Interesting observation, so I ask where does that come from? Does a child’s brain come to this conclusion because they learn patterns? Because we are socialized in units? This was not a stick, this was a member of a group; this stick had feelings; this stick had to be close to its own kind. Children speak to us in unique ways. To be astute to hear is my job because I won’t know when the next gem will appear.



“A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them, they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.”

Rainer Maria Rilke



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