Gaston & Catawba

Want some big kicks? Watch children's soccer

Looking for an antidote to financial and political blues? Spend an hour watching 3-year-olds play soccer.

This fall, husband David and I have four of our five grandchildren playing soccer on four different teams. Some teams play in Gastonia and some in Belmont. Hence, we have been on the go, enjoying the warm, fall sunshine and visiting with friends whose grandchildren are on the same or opposing teams. Generally, no one knows the score – or cares.

We have been amazed by the improvement in skills as three of the young-uns have moved up to age 5-6 and 7-8 teams. They are, in fact, playing soccer. No more ring-a-round-a-rosy in the middle of the field or tackle football on the sidelines. They pay attention to their coaches and dribble the ball in the right direction.

It was a bittersweet moment as I saw how they were growing up, and I had a little grandmotherly pang in my heart – until I watched 3-year-olds in a soccer match play in the field behind First Baptist Church in Belmont. It was deja vu all over again.

As I told Sissy Perryman – who with Rebekah Bing coaches our team, the Comets – anyone who purports to coach 3-year-olds is a true optimist. I would say that it is an activity akin to herding cats.

About 10 kids on the Comets and four from the Tidal Wave showed up, but it made no difference as they ran around the field together. Coach Perryman encouraged all the players, although some, including our granddaughter, refused to play at all. Sarah Layton was too busy playing with Ozzie, a visiting doggie. She did, however, look very cute in her yellow soccer shirt and itsy-bitsy cleats.

After all, cute is what it's all about.

It was absolutely so much fun to see small children having such a great time and to watch their families out in force, beaming with pride. It did not matter when players dribbled full speed down the pint-size field, kicking the ball into the wrong goal. Out came the cameras anyway. Photo ops are photo ops.

Many of these children will grow up to be hot-shot soccer players. Winning and losing will become important issues, and the sidelines may not ring with chuckles. But that is far in the future.

At the end of the match between the Comets and the Tidal Wave, everyone high-fived. Then the players turned to the most important concern of the day: “What's for snacks?”