Midfielders Make the World Go Round

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.

Big ball

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.


Midfielders Make the World Go Round — 36 Comments

  1. As a soccer mom who’s been watching and taking pictures from the sidelines for 10 years, I loved this post! I have a midfielder too, although she’s playing more D this year. I love how you likened so many of us to midfielders. Very true!

  2. Isn’t it awesome to see our kids out there? Defense could be a totally different post – those kids and goalkeepers are cut from a different cloth, with their own sets of challenges.
    I think some of us have some midfielder in us, but only a few are born into it. I need to tap my inner midfielder more often.

  3. Thanks girls! We all have to play midfield at some point – the difference is, how will we approach it? If I can do it half as well as my girls, I’m happy with that.

  4. Love this. And I come here knowing very little about soccer but the metaphor still works so well. This is definitely one of those posts I want to read a few times.
    Oh – and two of my favorites in one place today? It’s gonna be a good day 🙂

  5. Good pizza, yah. Breakfast. Mmm….Huh? Oh, right the blog piece. I liked the way the sports analogy carried through but you came back around to the kids at the end and how hard it is to sit on the sidelines and then just say good job.

  6. Thanks Tricia – I tried to make this good for the soccer lite among us. If you read it enough times, you’ll probably want to watch the World Cup next time.
    Yeah, this is cool being here, and I’m always up for pizza for breakfast.

  7. Thank you, thank you. It’s easy to get distracted by the pizza. Kids at my practice will sometimes say, “hey coach, smell that? Someone’s barbecuing. What do you think is on the grill?” Twenty minutes later, I realize we’re still in practice.
    See? You got me talking food and I forgot all about the kids and the blog. You’re good.

  8. This was so great to see in the morning! Two of my favorite bloggers, combined! I love the metaphor. Also, what are some of your favorite cheese-covered snacks? I need new ideas.

  9. Perfect! I did a few stints in that position on the girls’ teams I played with, but I usually played defense. I always admired the midfielders when I played soccer. Now I have a better idea why!

  10. Thanks Rabia! I think we all should take a shift at midfield. I’m beginning to appreciate the art of it, for sure. So proud of my girls for fighting the good fight.

  11. Love this, Eli! Great metaphor and you’ve given me a deep understanding of the role of a midfielder. This soccer mom thanks you. 🙂
    Also, stop hogging all the pizza! (And every time I read your posts I feel like I should be eating garlic parmesan wings.)

  12. Garlic parmesan wings will bind you and I together forever, you know that.
    I’m definitely not a pizza hog. I like my slices one at a time, savored.
    (Now I’m not thinking about blogging at all. And I had pizza for lunch today – pepperoni, sausage and jalepeno, matter of fact).
    Midfielders sure do rock. So do soccer moms.

  13. After a lifetime of avoiding playing and watching sports, I love that I can wrap my mommy arms around being a midfielder. I will keep that image in my mind and in my heart as I go onto the field every day, even though my girls are grown up!

  14. Being a mommy/midfielder should come with a medal, too. The work mommies do as midfielders doesn’t stop when the whistle blows, though. But you knew that. Thanks Kim!

  15. Well, I’m late to the pizza party…but I am SURE you left me one or two pieces didn’t you??? LOVE the parallel… love the midfielder… We are all worthy of that role, are we not?!! I can picture you on the sidelines watching your girls go at it. What an amazing visual it is…
    My son scored two goals today. My daughter, not a one. My son may be able to stay in the game with your girls. He’s glorious at soccer. The kid is fast and agile and able. My daughter gets an A for effort. And an A+ for supporting her team. I think both are equally important. I cheer for both sides every time, and get weird looks like I am some kind of monster. Seriously? THAT was a great play!!!! Who cares if it was the other team that scored. They surely earned THAT goal. Damn competitors.

  16. I have never read anything Eli has written that I don’t really, really like, including this piece you’ve showcased.
    Very nice.

  17. There’s always more pizza, CC. I think we all have the potential to play the role, but how many of us are willing to put in the hard work? Not everyone. I watch my girls with a combination of admiration and awe and pure love.
    Oh, I will fill a team with players like your daughter any season. Our team lost 3-1 on Saturday, but the effort was so strong, it felt like a win. It really did. When you combine kids like your son and your daughter on the team, with speed and agility out there with heart and effort, that’s the makings of a winner.
    Competition can drive us to great things, and some ugly things, too. I’m never one to begrudge a team for making a great play for us. Applause deserved.

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