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Junior soccer is a very special time in life. Not only for the players, but also for the parents. Suddenly everything revolves around the ball. Additional training sessions before and after school are not a rarity. Susanne Amar, founder of the blog “Gone Into the Net” (in German “Ins Netz gegangen”) tells you what she has learned in more than a decade on the sidelines.

I don’t understand why ten players run behind a ball and one guards the goal? Why do men cry when their favorite club leaves the champion’s league? How can a player be worth several million euros?

I first learned a few years ago that different positions are played on a team. That a lefty is someone who shoots with the left foot. That in a derby two teams from the same district play against each other.

"I don't understand many things in Soccer. It just is not my game..."

However, it’s the world of my son. And it’s that for more than ten years, and with heart and soul.

He receives his first jersey at the age of three. The smallest goalkeeper’s gloves are so large, it’s as if he has plate mines on his hands. During wind and weather he kicks in the garden. For every occasion he wishes for something to do with soccer.

Fits of rage make him an occasional nightmare on children’s birthdays when the others don’t want to play soccer all afternoon.

He’s happy when he goes to practice. For weeks ahead of time a training camp ensures great excitement. His day is often longer than my workday, when he rushes to practice right after school and comes home in the evening exhausted but happy. He foregoes going out with his friends, when he’s in the starting line up the next morning. He meets with his athletic coach before school at 6:45, while I’m still rolling over one more time.

"For him Soccer is his passion."

More than 2 million junior players are organized in clubs. Professional soccer generates 7.9 billion euros in 2014. Every third person in Germany calls himself a soccer fan, 55% men and 16% women.

I’m definitely not one of them.

But what do you do as a mother when your son loves something more than anything else? At first I’m not aware of the extent of it. Twice each week I register kicking in the club as a nice hobby: “The main thing is the boy has fun.”

And that’s exactly what pulls me on and on into the soccer abyss. The fun, the enthusiasm, the happiness and the shining eyes of our son. People who are on fire for something fascinate me. Those who have found something which electrifies them to the tip of their toes.

I decide to follow the call of soccer. Which is to say, it’s not a clear decision. I don’t sit there at breakfast one day and say, “As of today I’m interested in soccer.”

It is rather subconsciously. I allow my son to “take me by the hand” and plunge with him into his cosmos. Like so many things in life, that doesn’t happen all of a sudden. I “grow” with each day, with each month, with each experience into his world.

I watch a game here and there. I get to know nice parents. I learn that 8-year-olds already take part in championships. I witness the fact that scouting is conducted in youth soccer already. In addition to the classic duties such as driving and laundry service and drying tears.

In the meantime, the world championship and the European championship draw me to the television. Watching together with friends – simply delightful. As a matter of fact, I watched the last German Cup finale in the pub…

Even so, I don’t mutate into a soccer fan. And soccer is not just soccer…

What I read about the Hummels, Ronaldos, Guardiolas, Kloppos and Beckenbauers of this world entertains me. What I experience day in and day out with my son touches me.

It’s fun for me to watch him play. I’m happy when he’s happy with himself and his achievement. I have the greatest respect for the way he organizes his everyday life. And I am proud of him and the path he has taken so far.

However, I also struggle with the soccer system. I don’t always find the interaction of the coaches with junior players to be pedagogically “valuable”. I often wish for more regard for the individual and not only for the entire team. Even when I’m aware that that’s difficult. I often feel alone when it comes to balancing soccer and school. Let alone when there are injuries.

I compare the ball sport with my work colleague. I get along with her well at work; for the most part, we work well together. However, one or another uncooperative “outliers”, such as punctuality for her when she has “trouble” and we, the others, keep slogging away causes me to doubt her. Somehow I don’t really get fully involved with her; I don’t trust her and I’m always on my guard. Similarly it’s like that for me with my son’s youth soccer.

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This article was written by Susanne Amar, founder of the blog, “Ins Netz gegangen” [“Gone Into the Net”]. Find more info on her website (in German) or on our Blog.

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