(Posted September, 2009)

Chase has just started kindergarten, which also puts him in league with other like-aged boys and girls in a recreation soccer team, which plays other teams from as far away as anywhere else in the extended neighborhood he lives in.

Watching the “Six and Unders” play soccer is not unlike watching puppies wrestle an old sock stuffed with other old socks. They are both having a wonderful time and no one should interfere. Any adult who watches children play in general also are envious of how quickly friendships can be made of former strangers. Unlike the machinations that go on with the older people – usually beginning with the teens – a child will find another child his own size and temperment and ask, “Do you want to be friends?” The answer has always been a resounding “Okay!” and off they go.

Today’s game took place on a field that would be rejected by goats as being too unkempt. A soccer ball could be found somewhere in the clump of children and grass and it moved sparingly across the shortened field. As movement of the ball was limited, this allowed the children time to mingle with and make new friends, jersey color not being a consideration. Such a spontaneous friendship erupted between Chase and a boy on the other team. As they shared observations on grass and what their hands looked like, the game continued. Suddenly, from the clump of players, a Hercules of a player kicked the ball well over 20 feet! Obviously, she was a ringer, but this caused great excitement as all the players, including Chase’s new friend, rushed towards the moving ball.

Chase, however, was still searching for bugs in the grass, so his new friend stopped running and came back to Chase, pulling him to the ball and shouting, “Come on! Come on!” Together, they then ran with the rest of the kids to see what all the excitement was about.

How often, in any sort of competition, do we return to those falling behind and shout an encouraging, “Come on! Come on!”?