For the past couple of weeks I have been rising to the sound of fresh coffee brewing at the hour of 5:30 am. Now many of you who know me will be wondering. What the heck happened to Toby? Other than getting to the airport for an early flight I NEVER see that hour of the morning. But it is FIFA World Cup Soccer time. This is the reason I rise while it is still dark outside. This is the reason I drink 4 pots of coffee instead of three. I love soccer. My stepson Adam was an amazing soccer player and many of my favorite memories over the last 15 years are of the fun our family had around Adams soccer matches. Victor and Ruben were the coaches from Paraguay. Victor would be screaming in Spanish while Ruben yelled in the little english he knew “Shoot the ball! Shoot the ball” although it sounded more like “soot de boul!!” I appreciated his enthusiasm and the passion each of them had for the game and the kids they coached. So as I watched the games I spent time texting and emailing Ruben.
As I watch the people in the stands and talk to people as I travel there is a strong unifying factor that soccer has. People are allowed to be crazy, blow horns, beat drums and enter into a culture they may not otherwise experience. Families are brought together and children learn great athleticism and sportsmanship.
One thing that stood out on the Argentinian team is watching the coach kiss each player on the cheek as they come out of the game for a substitution or at halftime. Also the affection showed to teammates on the field. Soccer is a game that brings the passionate warrior out in each player and fan. Sure there have been situations where this passion has gotten carried away but for the most part I love the respect the players have for each other and the game. As I walked through the airport today there was a game on. Perfect strangers were being bound together as they watched the men play. Passers by would ask for the score. A real bonding around the games.
I wonder if there is a way to take this connection beyond a soccer tournament. How can we find common ground on a daily basis? How can we make that connection in all aspects of our lives and build authentic community? What is it that draws us together so powerfully around this event? These are the questions I am pondering, I’d love to hear what you think!
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