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We became a soccer family this weekend. I realize that for some this is considered a late start. In fact, it is such a late start that, were we to take up the sport through our local rec & ed, Calvin would be behind by about three years compared to the other kids in his age group, a fact that astounds me to no end. He's only six.

We've put off the start of team games for a lot of reasons. For one thing, have you ever seen a three-year-old taking part in cooperative play? It falls somewhere in the "no it's mine" category. Plus we've been selfish with our time. Nothing about multiple weekday practices and giving up our Saturdays to games was appealing to Jon or to me. But the main reason we've waited this long is the competitive nature of team sports. We don't like it, so we've avoided it. I recognize that team sports are supposed to teach cooperative behaviors, but if you've ever seen the soccer parent caricature, you know what I'm talking about. So we've sought the teaching and learning of cooperative behavior in other ways, ways that throw teams together without pitting them against other teams.

What's different now? Well, this year our local homeschooling group, which is rather unruly and large for being local in such a small town area, decided to organize a summer soccer association. Surrounded by parents who, by and large, have similar ideas about team sports, we though it would be a fun way to start. Plus we meet only once a week. The group had enough kids for about five teams, ages all over the map, of course, and enough parents interested in teaching and coaching to make it a viable summer activity. We designed t-shirts, we paid enough to purchase a few balls, some scrimmage jerseys, and a slew of orange cones, and we're off.

Yesterday was our first practice. The main goal right now, according to the parents, was to have fun, stay fit, and learn how to play the game. The main goal, according to the younger kids at least, was day dreaming, I think. In any case, we got the first one right; the kids sure had fun.

And the blue team is ready for action! Or maybe not.

The other team scored once, and after that Calvin was afraid to leave the goal. At some point a few other blue team members caught on to the importance of the goalie, too, and we suddenly had three goalies...out of a team of 5.

At least it was sunny.