Why am I going to Barcelona? Why to watch my 12 year old son play soccer. Crazy, I know!
This trip was not on my radar until November. The concept of the possibility of one of my boys being invited to play soccer anywhere but Massachusetts was never on my radar, let alone another country! Yet now it is.
How did I get here? Glad you asked. I wondered the same thing!
The back story:
When my boys were 5 and wanted to play town soccer, I thought it was cute. There was something adorable about seeing these little guys in their too big soccer T-shirts all chasing a ball around like it was a magnet. They'd run as fast as they could, kick it, if they were lucky, sometimes several at once, and sometimes, it went into a net. It might have been the net 3 'fields' down, but it was a net. They'd get all excited and jump around. Except for the one who was staring at the sky or twirling or running the wrong way. The games were short and the season was measured in weeks. It was a mere $50 and I could buy cleats at Target for $20.
Then, they really liked it. They started to get very competitive about it. They wanted to play more than town soccer. I was clueless. I didn't even know something called 'club' soccer really existed! A fellow mom whose son also played and loved the game, invited my youngest, then 9, to try out for a new club team called F.C. Celtic. They were adorable, talented, local boys. They had a coach who had a lovely British accent and a great sense of humor. He engaged the boys and taught them football. European style football, not American soccer. Turns out, there is a difference. A big one.
This adorable group of young boys were also the sweetest, kindest, gentlest kids you'd probably ever assemble. They are innately skilled and athletic, sponges for knowledge, and have a lot to teach the rest of the world about sportsmanship and the importance of team. They had the good fortune of a coach who taught them to win with skill, not 'dirty' play. It's almost a 'kill them with kindness' (and amazing foot skills) mentality. And it works!
These boys have grown tremendously in all areas. Not only are they taller, more savvy to the strategy of the game and becoming young men, they are advancing in skill rapidly. Those with the fire and the passion live, eat and breathe soccer. The core of that original team is still intact today, 3 years later. They are the best of friends and their care and concern and support of each other is inspiring and heart warming. Newer team members have come and gone. They are now the Central Mass Bolts Boys U-12 team. They are still the sweetest boys you'll ever meet. They just happen to have a tremendous team bond, great friendships, and they play kick-ass soccer. The best part? They have fun doing it!
They have worked hard and played hard. Soccer is now a year-round sport. I spend thousands (tens of thousands over the years) of dollars on equipment (those $20 cleats are now $100 and last 3 months if I'm lucky, and keeper gloves... yikes!) club and tournament fees, uniforms, and gas to drive all over creation to games and tournaments. Someone has soccer just about every night of the week and every weekend day. Most of our weekends in the fall and spring and most holidays are lost to soccer. I have paid a gazillion dollars and spent countless hours driving to/from games and sitting in all kinds of weather year-round to help him accomplish his soccer goals and dreams. The things I've given up so my boys can play soccer is... well, this is not about me.
Parents, when you have those babies, these are the things you don't realize. Self-sacrificing for your kids, to give them the best you can, never ends! I sure as hell hope they thank me someday and maybe get a scholarship to college out of it!
Now, he and his team have the tremendous opportunity to travel to Barcelona, Spain, representing their club, to play football against the Spanish kids. They will train 5 days and play 4 games. They will get to visit and train at Camp Nou, the amazing stadium where FC Barcelona plays. They will even get to see FC Barcelona play on Easter night. To say they are over the top excited would be the understatement of the year! It's like they are going to soccer mecca!
The boys really don't quite grasp what this means. How far Spain is. How different the culture is. How good these Spanish kids are going to be at the game! What a tremendous opportunity this is for them, both for their soccer 'careers', but also the chance to go to Spain and experience all that Barcelona has to offer.
"Manimal" as his coach affectionately calls him, is very excited. Not only about the travel to Barcelona and the soccer he will play and watch, but mostly about spending a week with his best buddies. He's almost giddy. It's so wonderful to see him so happy. He's worked hard for this. I'm so glad I will get to share it with him. He's still a mama's boy. :-)
Of course I have a gazillion things to do before we leave. I am sad, because it's just he and I going. The trip is crazy expensive and was unexpected and not budgeted for, therefore I am unable to bring the entire family. I just couldn't afford it. I really can't afford it for me! I just couldn't deny my son the opportunity.
My older son, who is also a soccer player and fantastic goal keeper, is not able to come with us. Nor is my husband. I feel so horrible as a mother that I can't share this experience with both of my boys and my husband. We will 'make up' for it in another way when another opportunity presents itself, but it's not the same.
So check back here as I plan to chronicle our adventures!
Excuse me while I go to work. I'll be the one up most of the night trying to get everything done. I guess that means I'll be on Barcelona time real quick! ;-)