Catch Up on the Tournament


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Today, I need to catch up on writing as it’s been more than a week since the last flurry of blog activity from me.

Most current news of the little boys team is that I got to spend a great deal of this past weekend with them as they were playing in a tournament in San Antonio on Saturday and Sunday. As is pretty common with tournaments, there are always last-minute schedule changes and my Manager, Cristina dealt with them all very smoothly taking each setback in her stride and keeping us all well-informed. We went from two games in the afternoon on Saturday making for a nice peaceful drive down Saturday Morning to both games getting rescheduled for Saturday morning which changed everyone’s travel plans especially as the first game was for 8:40 am kick off. Apparently, Coach Cliff didn’t get the word as he came down expecting an 8:40 games as was his original schedule, to learn that his games had both been switched to the afternoon time slots. It’s sometimes both good and bad when Coach Cliff watches a team play if he has a team in the same age bracket as he is usually sizing up which are the better players and is always ready to move in  and recruit them. This is the norm for youth soccer as the better players should strive to keep moving onto the better teams and improve their skills.

So, like the rest, I struggled to get up at 5:00 am setting not one but two alarms in order to be sure I did not oversleep. I needn’t have worried as my built-in alarm clock had me awake ready to get up before the alarms even went off. I wonder if whatever wakes us like that makes allowances for summer time when the clocks are ahead an hour? Something for those researchers to study…

The drive down was uneventful and I usually go the scenic route down US 281 as it is closer for me to do so. We all arrived and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the boys were ready to play even at that early hour. They gave a good account of themselves and played well but we lost 2-0. We had a guest player in Frankie Mauro, younger brother to Andrew and Dominic  so we adjusted one of our “hand thingie” cheers to mention him. The boy’s approached this with great enthusiasm and that was probably our best cheer of the tournament. Our second game was at 1:40 pm which meant sitting and waiting around killing time so like the good coffee drinker that I am and knowing where all the Starbucks are located wherever I happen to be,  a short trip for a grande non fat latte and oatmeal and then back to the fields where I got out my trusty new toy, my iPad and watched a live Barclay’s English Premier League soccer game over Foxsoccer.TV as I consumed my goodies. Ah, the miracles of the 21st century.

The boys second game aroused much interest for them as they noticed that the team had a couple of girls playing with them. Not sure if it is seen as a weakness on the other team’s part or a natural and youthful shying away from “little girls” even if they were wearing cleats. Turns out to be a pretty good game and the boys actually played some pretty good stuff especially when the other team went ahead with a goal which was NOT scored by a girl, thank goodness. It roused something in them like a desire and a passion that we had not seen before and they ran and played the best and hardest I have ever seen them play for the last 10 minutes. They were rewarded with a goal to tie it up a 1-1. They also saw a totally new line up that they were not able to take advantage of and no amount of cajoling and shouting at them from the sidelines woke them to the fact that when the other teams defence stays in their own penalty area, they extend the use of the entire field to the team they are playing against and our forwards needed to push up as far as they could and the defence had to get them the ball. Oh well, my 75-year-old soccer brain making rash judgements on the ability of 10 and 11 year olds who look at things through a different (and much younger with 20-20 vision) set of eyes.

The next morning. I struggled to get up very early as we had a 7:30 am game which meant a 4:00 am start for me. Again, my built-in alarms performed admirably and I was up and ready to go, well maybe that not true but at least I got up, before either of them went off. You should know that any hours between midnight and 9:00 am are something lost out of my life so unless the dogs wake me for whatever reason, I have no idea that anything exists in that time period. So, for me to get up at 4:00 am is like discovering a  whole new world that I have not been a part of. Can’t say that I was too impressed.

The trip down was uneventful and I arrived at the fields at 6:30 am and it was still dark out. I had to wonder what I was doing there at such a god awful hour but having made my customary stop at the Starbucks store, I was well prepared to do business with the world and face whatever happened to come my way, one more time. One by one, the players dragged in towing sleepy-eyed parents behind them. The boys, for the most part looked awake so that part was promising. I often wonder which team will show up to play but today it looked like the “good team”was there. I was regaled by the boys telling me about the wonderful time they had the evening before. Cristina filled in the blanks so it appears that not only did they get to play soccer, they were also entertained by the theme park at which they stayed. Good for them.

The game itself was very well-played and we managed to be ahead at halftime 2-1. The boys really played well and we strung passes together, tackled hard and generally put forth a lot of effort. It was as though they picked up after the last 10 minutes of the previous game the day before and carried on from there. In the second half, we had a couple of moments of defensive weaknesses when we either missed a tackle, didn’t clear our lines or individual errors and we finally lost 4-2. The boys played very hard and kind of left a trail of bruised and battered opposition behind them. I have never seen them play with this sort of intensity and so physically hard and I am hoping that it is another step along the progress chain as they absorb this wonderful game.

Some of you may have noticed that we made many changes in the way that we selected teams at each game. I used this tournament as an opportunity to experiment with team line ups and have to say that it was very encouraging. I just wish that the games were longer and that more players were on the field so that more boys could have more playing time. We have to do this for one more year before we can play 11v11. I was never in favor of this particular move by our soccer gods or whoever calls the shots.

Cristina, in all of her wisdom, reminded the boys that I got up extra early to come down to the tournament and for them to say thank you which they did in a very demonstrative way as I was hugged nearly to death by a bunch of happy and grateful children. What a wonderful moment. Almost made up for getting up early…

We will continue training this coming Tuesday for those of you still in town. Obviously, we will not train on Thanksgiving day but we will be back at it Tuesday and Thursday through December 15 when we will call it quits for this half of the season. We will try to make it fun with lots of scrimmaging. We have not set a start-up date for the Spring but it will be mid or the end of January when we come back again,

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how grateful I am to be coaching this fun group of boys. As Parents, you have done a wonderful job with them and they are a great bunch of boys to be around. You can give yourselves a pat on the back as I have to say that as a Parenting Group, you all are one of the easiest that I have had the pleasure of working with for a very long time. Thank You and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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