Competitive sport is important. But let's keep a sense of proportion, please...

>> Monday, 8 October 2012

My sons have been playing in a competitive football league for the last couple of months, Boy#2 for the first time in his life like most of  his team-mates.

The nearly-over season hasn't been a complete washout - but neither has it been what you might called an unqualified success.  If you count 'success' as actually winning games, that is...  However it has been fun, and not just for the Boys, as it gives parents the chance to catch up on the sidelines.

There's no such thing as a 'drop your kids at the match and pop off to do a couple of errands' opportunity here in Moscow, mainly because even if you were able to tear yourself from your little cherub's side, the ground is so far from home - and the traffic so unpredictable - that if you tried to go anywhere else during the hour the children have on-pitch, you would actually end up collecting them as darkness fell at least 5 hours later.  Not really worth it if even if you do have a hard-core caffeine habit and are desperate for a coffee in Starbucks half a mile down the road; the chances are too great your caffeine hit will result in being caught in the mother of all jams on your way back.

So, the parents usually stay and shout their support to the 6 and 7 year olds buzzing around the pitch like a swarm of bees, and it has to be said that some nationalities of parent are more vociferous and aggressive in this than others.  Yes, American and French expat dads - I'm looking at you.  Listening to many of them, you would think that their children were trying out for some top-flight football academy rather than simply enjoying a run around on a Saturday morning.  Having said that, I'm afraid that even we more retiring nations can give our noisier peers a run for their money on occasion.  I give you Exhibit A.

Yesterday morning, I was standing with a couple of other mothers from the British Isles watching our sons losing their match.  Again.  We were of course trying to lift their spirits, shouting support (I do recall at one moment suggesting to Boy#2 that he face the ball rather than chatting to a fellow player - that's what we're working with in the Potski Family, I'm afraid).  The son of one of the women I was standing with was in goal, so we had stationed ourselves near the posts to gee him up - which seemed like an excellent idea at the time.

Until the moment when the ball careered across the pitch towards the little boy - and the goal.  At which point, his excited mum, somewhat carried away by the moment and desperate to save him from the ignominy of letting in another goal, ran onto the pitch and - well, sort of helped the ball on it's way, off the pitch.  By, um, kicking it.


To say she was embarrassed when she realised what she'd done is an understatement.  To say that the other mum & I nearly wet ourselves laughing is another.  But you know what topped off the whole experience for me? The look on the faces of the group of dads supporting the opposing team when they realised that they couldn't actually make that much of a fuss about it without appearing to be complete plonkers; not only were their team already winning handsomely but we were, after all, watching a game for 6 and 7 year old children...


Jen Walshaw 8 October 2012 at 09:25  

Ha hs ha. We too are a football family and it is a whole new world. We have already fallen foul to the parent who wanted MadDad to continue coaching, but remove MIni die to a tantrum and subsequently removed hos child, as he couldn't possibly have our children mixing (yet the mornon's child is still in the same class as MIni at school)!

Mini's team have not get won a game and there biggest loss for 14 - 0 I wish I had been there to help the poor keeper out!

MsCaroline 8 October 2012 at 10:23  

I loved those years - both of mine played in leagues until they were in middle school, at which time the stakes got very high (in our particular community, parents who wanted their children to earn a place on the school team took them out of regular community leagues around age 10 or so and put them into special club or traveling leagues, along with providing private lessons, etc.) and the fun was gone. We were lucky to always seem to get rational parents who were hoping their children would learn the basics of the game and the importance of teamwork, but I can assure you that we saw many, many adult temper tantrums take place on the sidelines among parents. I think our biggest thrills had more to do with the boys understanding concepts like passing and setting up and playing actual positions as opposed to scoring goals - mostly because their teams were never especially successful.

manycoloured-days 8 October 2012 at 15:13  

I remember those Moscow 'soccer' games. This brought back some memories though nothing like this! Thanks for the laugh.

Irene 8 October 2012 at 17:22  

I would say: all parents to the bleachers and stay put!

Expat mum 8 October 2012 at 18:09  

Yes, some of the American dads can get pretty "involved". So glad my youngest has barely an athletic bone in his body. The PE teacher took my older son aside and asked him to explain the basics of basketball to him; apparently a 50 minute class just wasn't enough time. LOL

nappy valley girl 8 October 2012 at 21:11  

That's hilarious.
I've seen American dads quite involved in our weekly soccer matches, but no-one has ever got that involved! I think maybe it would be worse at baseball or basketball - they tend to consider soccer a less important sport here....

Iota 8 October 2012 at 22:27  

That's hilarious. How will she ever live it down?

Potty Mummy 10 October 2012 at 08:48  

Jen, ah, those losing streaks. Still on ours, too...

MsC, long live the rational parents, that's what I say. Shame there aren't more of them about!

MCD - what - you never ran onto the pitch and participated? Come on - fess up.

Irene, if only there were bleachers!

EPM, and did the lesson from his big brother help?

NVG, actually I have to say that I think the French dads are - if anything - even worse. (Sssshhhh)

Iota - luckily for her the season finishes very soon!

Knackered Mother 10 October 2012 at 23:40  

That's hilarious! Similar here, lots of competitive dads, lots of chatting mums. And always coffee.

Tales of Stepford 5 November 2012 at 19:22  

Brilliant! That was nearly me today as I watched my 7 year old constantly side-lined whilst the bigger boys passed the ball to each other and ignored the littler ones. Then I realised how particularly un-cool it would be for him to have his mum stroll onto the pitch and attempt to pass the ball to him. My husband and I possess absolutely no sporting genes, so it will be a miracle if he keeps the football up and doesn't take up pottery or wet felting instead. Loved the post and I'm glad it's not just me standing there on the sidelines wanting to 'help out' occasionally!

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