It's not just a game-- it's culture....

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Zander, my ten year old, has always been active in sports.  He played American Football, competitive swim, wrestling and baseball.  He loves the outdoors and being apart of a team.  Life in Costa Rica is different and the first few months were hard.  Culture shock is a word we hear, but few experience. There are language barriers, culture barriers.  It basically felt like your running yourself into a brick wall. Zander tried and is still trying but fitting in when you are the only white "gringo" on the block is tough.

I was so excited when he chose soccer (futball) as his elective in school.   I thought, "Hey, this is his chance to make some friends."    I'm not going to lie. The first month in another country was awful.  Yes, I know people want to believe it's all perfect.  I know that's what the Facebook pictures show.  Happy family posing in front of (fill in the blank).  The reality was screaming and tears.  It was our son hating school.  Being attacked by his peers.  It was anger and frustration.   It was him coming home hating school and hating this new culture, but somehow through it-- he still found futball.

When there wasn't screaming and there wasn't tears, there was futball.  There was talking plays and downloading the latest app.  It was reading the rules.  It was practice and more practice.  It was more tears, and loneliness.    It was the feeling that maybe at some point this frustration has got to peek, it's got to get better. It's learning from your team, and trying to understand your coach until final one day it's just futball.

That moment your kid puts on the donated cleats (Yes, a fellow missionary bought him cleats) and you watch him run our on the field and you are there breathing in, just waiting to exhale...  That moment you realize the other players are talking to him and he is doing more than just standing-- he is actually playing futball.

You see too often parents brush off sports like there just time spent wasted.  Time spent with practice, or time spent exercising.  Sports are not just a game.  Sports are culture.  They are a way for your child to be a part of something greater than themselves.  No matter the race; no matter the income; no matter the language-- sports unify us.   They make us feel accepted.   They give our kids a sense of purpose and of belonging.  They teach our kids they don't have to be the greatest on the team, but they do have to give it all to the team.  It teaches humility and pride.

It took nearly 3 months to exhale- to believe we were going to make it.  It was more than a game that day.  It was a defining moment that said we were okay.  Zander was okay and that we were going to continue to be okay.   There is just something about the way you watch your child interact with his peers, with his friends, that shows you how things are.  How they are doing...

I never thought I'd be a sport mom.  I don't run!  I don't exercise-- unless you consider my words per minute finger plays.  Even still-- I get it. It's so important for our kids to connect. For a lot of kids sports is their connection.  It's there culture.  It's the way they learn to interact. The way the learn to joke. The way they learn to build each other up and push each other's limits.   This is not just a game-- it's a culture..
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