Amazing Kids! Magazine

Soccer Skills

By Ryan Traynor, Assistant Editor

 

Dylan sat on the sidelines at the soccer game once again. He watched as his teammates ran back and forth across the field, sweat beads forming on their foreheads. The looks of determination made him want to be on the field, joining in the team banter and working together like a well-oiled machine. He heard a familiar voice and looked to the right, seeing both his mom and dad standing along the sidelines, cheering for his team. His mom felt his stare and glanced over his way. She smiled, and gave him a “thumbs up.” He smiled back at her, hiding the butterflies in his stomach that flew in a flurry any time he thought he might be called out onto the field. He attended every practice, but knew he was not as good as the other boys on the team. This thought was underlined every game, as he was never the first to be called out to go on the field. Dylan didn’t mind. He liked cheering on his teammates and had fun analyzing the opposing team. He took the time on the bench to scout out the best players and spot their defensive moves.

This game showed him that the other team depended upon one player to make all the goals. The turnovers were caused when he would steal the ball from his team and sprint down to his goal before his team could recover from the shock. The other players on the opposing team seemed to let this boy take over. They were not smiling the way his team was. When this one boy scored goals, they did not jump up and down the way his teammates did. They allowed this one boy to prance across the field like a king looking down on his servants. Observing this made Dylan somehow, more content. He looked over his teammates and saw them signaling to each other and passing the ball. There was no one standout. The score was tied and he knew why. Even though the other team had a star player, his team was his equal because they worked together. The sum of their parts was greater than any one player. Where one player was weak, the other players supported him.

Dylan saw now how he could help the team. When one of his team called to the coach that he needed water, the coach looked to the bench in search of a replacement player. Instead of averting his search, Dylan met his eyes with a look of excitement. The coach’s stare rested on Dylan and he nodded.

“Dylan, you’re up,” the coach shouted.

Dylan pounced off the bench and ran onto the field. The spring of the soccer field on his cleats made him run even faster. Once on the field he began communicating with his teammates.

“Chris, Number 8 on the other team is on fire. Can you help Jimmy with the defense on him?”

A curt nod from each boy allowed Dylan to know that his comments were understood.

The ball was thrown in from the sidelines and the boys dribbled it part-way down the field. Skillfully passing the ball to one another, their forward shot a direct line into the goal at the top of the goal post. There was no way the other team could have defended against it.

The other team quickly took the ball down field. Sensing the clock ticking off the remaining minutes of the game, they passed to Number 8, as Dylan had predicted. However, Number 8 was boxed in to a section of the field because Chris and Jimmy had forced him over to the sideline. Unable to dribble forward, he dejectedly passed the ball off to another teammate. Two more swift passes and the defenders were able to score another goal, making the score tied again with only two minutes remaining.

His team was now in possession of the ball. He saw Number 8 making his way towards the dribbler. Knowing his strategy he yelled across the field to his team’s defender.

“Joe, hang back a little will you?”

Joe put on the breaks and remained near the midfield line.

Just as predicted, Number 8 swooped in with a side swipe and stole the ball. As he shot down the field, Joe met him head on. Number 8 was stopped in his tracks, forced to pass to a fellow player. As the ball scampered across the turf, one his players intercepted it and shot it down the field to one of the midfielders. Dylan ran as quickly as he could and before he knew what was happening, his teammate had passed him the ball. Reacting more out of instinct than skill, Dylan kicked the ball with all his might and watched as the ball went into the goal. Right then the refs called “End of Game” and his team let out a unified shout of joy.

Dylan found himself on the shoulders of some of his teammates with them shouting his name. After the game the team huddled under the shade tarp on one knee listening to their coach.

“Good game, boys,” he began. “You all worked as a team out there and that’s why we won. Dylan, great job on the field today. Does anyone know why Dylan did such a great job?”

“Because he scored the final goal!” Joe shouted.

“No Joe. It’s because Dylan shared with all of you what the weaknesses and strategies of the other team were. By working together, we all won this game…together,” Coach responded.

With that we all gave our three cheers and set off to eat pizza.

Dylan grouped with his parents and began to cross the field.

“Wait Dylan,” the coach yelled.

Dylan held back, wondering what he had done wrong.

“Dylan, I just wanted you to know that I think you have a real skill.”

“Me?” Dylan asked in disbelief.

“Yes, Dylan. I think you could be a great coach. With your ability to analyze the other team and work with your teammates, you could become a great coach someday. Keep it up!”

The coach walked ahead of them across the field as Dylan was frozen in his tracks. He had never known that he could be great at soccer.

“Let’s go, Coach Dylan,” his father said with a twinkle in his eye and a huge, proud smile.

Dylan walked forward with a new spring in his step, finally knowing that it takes many different types of skills to create a winning team. He was glad he was part of it.