I have to be honest, there’s been a good deal of football in our lives lately; between the kids’ matches and practices as well as the 2016 Euros which started a little over a week ago. But this week, things pick up even more.
The fun started with a Toronto FC “date night” on Saturday (see picture below). It was a beautiful evening to enjoy a game after a sunny, hot day, made all the better as one of our “nights out” which occur a little more often now that the kids are older.
Sundays we have the usual two practices, one for each footballer: Marina at 5:30 and Matthew at 7:00. I take the Lad’s shift and alternate between some reading and watching the boys play; if the mood strikes me, I’ll draft an entry for the blog (like today). This week will also see a host of daily matches as the Euros move on to the knockout stage. Toronto FC play again Tuesday, this time against the Vancouver Whitecaps as both teams vie for the Voyageurs Cup.
Marina has a competitive match on Tuesday and Matthew has two games this week. Both are a fair a distance from home; one in Oakville and the other in Milton. Not to mention that both games will finish around 10:45 p.m. “That’s not much is an issue,” Matthew assured us. “I’ve finished exams, so I don’t have school the next day.” Yeah, great, we told him. You’re not up a 6:15 the next morning to go to work.
Still, I’m not complaining. So far, each of his matches has been incredibly entertaining. I’m not sure if it’s their age or being so close to the action when watching, but there’s a level of intensity I haven’t seen before. For one, they’ve developed into quicker players and their skill set has much improved. Plus, it’s become a more aggressive game; anyone who says soccer isn’t a contact sport, hasn’t really watched. I still remember when Matthew first complained the players were pushing him. “You have to push back.” I offered. Now he does and has even taken to working his upper body to build the strength to hold off an opponent.
As for Marina’s team, their performance has grown as well but as they’re a few years younger, the level of skill and knowledge of the game isn’t quite there. Yet. Occasionally though, you’ll see a flash of brilliance when something clicks in a player. And the other day Jennifer mentioned that Marina wanted to be a captain for the team. This took us both completely by surprise; first because she’d never mentioned such a desire and secondly, it just seems out of character. But apparently, the Wee-One has been working hard to show her coach that she deserves the honour to lead her team. All I can say is that it’s nice to be surprised by this sudden burst of confidence and I hope she gets the opportunity to prove herself.
Writing this entry, I’m embracing a cool-ish breeze that’s just started to stir the air following such a hot day. It feels refreshing but even nicer is the satisfaction in watching the boys enjoy themselves as they work hard at practice. Whenever a play is well executed, they laugh and hug one other. Whenever they mess up, they’re quick to chide one another. It’s truly inspiring to see such camaraderie and I’m reminded that Matthew has never really been part of a team like this. It’s been a good change, moving clubs, and he loves it.
Earlier in the week, during their last game, the boys had fallen into a bit of lull and their opponents were pressing. Even though we were up 2–1, there was a sense that the match would soon be level if our boys didn’t pick up their game. One of our midfielders was futzing with the ball a little too much—trying to be fancy with his footwork—and was soon dispossessed. Our keeper, who is quite vocal in a general, supportive way, leaned forward from his 6-yard box and shouted “Stop fucking around!!!”