It’s time to mingle again! This time, with Eli from Coach Daddy. I could never dream of asking Eli over without serving pizza, so please! Grab a slice.
A brilliant story teller, Eli chronicles life and parenthood with humor and heart, from anecdotes about coaching soccer, to some of the unusual questions he fields from his daughters, to his “almost” convincing justification of Chick Fil A not being a fast food. Today’s post combines the many elements that makes Eli’s voice so compelling. A soccer metaphor, some philosophy, and a tribute to his girls.
The kids’ shirt said a lot in three words.
“Soccer is life.”
I love soccer. But I know better than to believe that soccer is life.
It does a pretty good imitation, though.
It’s much tougher to watch my girls play than it is to coach my girls. I pace the opposite sideline, silent, lips bitten and arms folded. I walk the field with them, no matter what their position. I don’t say a word. I follow them. I want to see what they see. I want to feel what they feel.
When it’s crunch time, they’re in the game. I never was. I don’t know what it’s like to be.
You don’t have to know tons about soccer to understand the role of the midfielder. The midfielder plays between defense and the offense, as both an offensive player and defender. Their range of field extends from one end of the vast field to the other and one side to the other. Their zone is the entire field.
Soldiers, then, are midfielders.
Other countries glorify the central midfield position with cool names, such as Trequartista (Italy) and Enganche (Argentina and Uruguay). World-class players such as Diego Maradona and Andrea Pirlo have played this position. They’re the playmakers, often outfitted in the esteemed uniform No. 10.
Engineers, then, are midfielders.
On soccer’s biggest stage, the midfielder is the complete player, possessing vision, skill, toughness, creativity. When you’re a school-aged girl playing soccer, it’s simply where the dirty work is done. It’s where the smart coach puts the players he trusts everything with.
And this, it seems, is where my daughters are best suited.
When you’re 8 or 12 or 15, it isn’t where the glory lies. It’s where the bruises, under your shin guards and on your arms and hips and ribs and thighs lie, and in spots that hurt that you don’t even remember being hit. It’s in the heavy, tired legs, the sweat-soaked jersey, the stained and strength-tested shin guards that stand between you, your enemy, and the first-aid kit.
Law enforcement and first-responders, then, are midfielders.
When goals are scored against you, and when your offense fails to score, look no further than the midfield. They dig out the ball from the opposition, are expected to know where the enemy is and where she’s going to be and where to best set up the more glorified forwards expecting your pass.
If you fail – if you don’t fight hard enough for a ball or place a pass just where your forward wants it, you’ll hear about it.
Teachers, then, are midfielders.
Midfielders have chances to score, too. They have incredible field vision, can anticipate not only what their teammates will do, but also what the opposition will do. Midfielders often must work alone for their shot, against able opposing midfielders and waiting defenders and lastly, a determined goalkeeper.
Marathon runners, then, are midfielders. So, too, are activists, social workers and, sometimes, world leaders.
A midfielder must look behind her when a goal is scored on her team, chin up, pat her chest to accept responsibility and encourage her teammates to fight on.
Dads, then, are midfielders.
A midfielder must smile as she watches a ball she fought so aggressively for and labored to secure find its way to a teammate’s feet and into the opponent’s goal. She will celebrate as the goal-scorer receives the cheers and accolades and find contentment in their moment of glory.
Moms, then, are midfielders.
So as my girls limp off the field, hair plastered to their flushed faces, jerseys askew, limbs bruised and socks stained and cleats bearing the dirt and dust and grass and sweat and blood and tears of the position, all I can do is kiss their salty foreheads and whisper, “Great game, lovey. Great game.”
They’re in great company, my midfielders.
When he’s not growing mustaches for men’s health awareness or trying to remain the No. 1 dude in all three daughters’ lives, Eli is coaching soccer, writing his blog or looking for his next cheese-covered snack. Find him at Coach Daddy and on Twitter: @Eliatcoachdaddy.