Soccer season in Manchester brings excitement and happiness to hundreds of families each year.
Though I usually lose my voice from cheering too loudly – I am the most obnoxiously enthusiastic soccer fan/parent you’ll ever meet – I look forward to each game. Games are usually on Saturdays, and every week I enjoy watching my sons, Adam, 8, and Alex, 4, grow from mere participants to team players, as coaches teach them that striving to help their teams win is more important than kicking the ball into the goal themselves.
I treasure the moments of seeing their faces show strong emotions, revealing focus, disappointment, competitiveness and exhilaration.
Wearing their teams’ colors and encouraging them from the sidelines brings me closer to my sons. After the weekdays and the busy schedule that comes with them, soccer season makes each Saturday a fun day for the family, watching the boys kick and dribble the ball, fall and get up on the field, and run to get a good position. Soccer helps me connect with family members who come to watch the games to make sure Adam and Alex always have a big, loud and enthusiastic audience.
With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting every aspect of life, including sports, the soccer season had to be delayed and was at risk of being canceled, but thanks to the partnership between the Coffee County Soccer League and the Manchester Parks and Recreation Department, the 2020 Fall Season became a reality and is bringing joy to Coffee County families.
Not only has soccer helped my children improve their conditioning but it has honed their negotiation and math skills. With this year being Alex’s first experience with team sports, he spent most of the time trying to get the ball from players on his own team, looking at the sidelines to see if the audience is impressed with his soccer moves or making twirling moves and “playing airplane.” Also, gravity seems to have a stronger force on the field, pulling Alex to the ground all the time, as he seems to fall even when there’s not another player near him. To motivate him, Alex’s grandmother told him she would give him $1 for each goal he scored. However, as scoring was rare, he tried to negotiate with her to pay him for other “achievements” during the game. He asked her if scoring for the other team counted; how many almost-goals equaled a $1; and if hitting the post was worth at least 20 cents.
I thank the Coffee County Soccer League and the Manchester Recreation Center for providing this opportunity for fun and learning.
On the first day of the season, Lee Brooks, president of the Coffee County Soccer League told players, coaches and parents that the Manchester Parks and Recreation Department had worked hard to ensure Manchester soccer teams could play.
Manchester Parks and Recreation employees helped handle the registration process and worked to prepare and maintain the fields. Setting up an area at the parking lot of the soccer fields, Parks and Recreation employees, including Director Bonnie Gamble, measured the temperature of all players and coaches to ensure they didn’t have COVID-19 symptoms on the days of the games.
With the disruption that the pandemic has caused, soccer season has brought normalcy and joy. I know Parks and Recreation employees stay busy taking care of the recreation center, greenways, and all other facilities they handle, and I appreciate them taking this additional responsibility to help the soccer league organize the season and make it happen.