Soccer to many people is a game of intensity where winning is everything. Somepeople have what it takes and others don't. To me soccer is intense, but winningis not everything. Enjoying the game and playing the way that makes you feel goodis truly soccer. Confidence is a key element in the game. You can't play yourbest if you have low self-esteem. This is one thing I have unfortunatelyencountered.
Last year my coach felt lowering each player's self-esteemwould make us winners. Instead it left a bunch of girls who once loved the game,struggling to finish the season.
Without self-confidence, our team wasnothing. Our coach was only satisfied with winning. I had one of the worst yearsof all the time I had played soccer. It was definitely a low-point in my soccercareer. It not only influenced my soccer life, it also played a big role in mysocial and home life. I always felt like nothing I did was good enough. Theparents of our team couldn't wait until the season was over. My coach ended theseason with another critique of what we had done wrong. As I walked off thatsoccer field with my shoulders down, I had to face a tough decision. Do Icontinue with soccer and take the chance of another degrading year? Or, do I giveup something that once meant the world to me?
When tryouts came around, Ihesitantly approached the fields. I went through three tryouts hoping I wouldmake a different team. The call from the coach came, congratulating me on makingthe team. He started by expressing his excitement for the upcoming year. Afterthat phone call I somehow knew this year would be different. As this year comesto an end, I have more confidence and skill than ever. I play the game intenselyand enjoy every minute of it. My coach lets us make important decisions on thefield and does not yell or put us down if we are wrong. He simply tells us calmlyhow we can improve next time. We all come off the fields with our heads held highand smiles on our faces. We may not win every game, but we try our hardest andenjoy ourselves. The parents and players laugh and have fun, as everyone shouldwhen playing soccer.
I hope next year that I am as fortunate to be a partof a team with not only a great coach, but a great group of friends. We have allbecome the best of pals through our teamwork and effort. Everyone deserves tofeel good about what they've achieved under any circumstances. I've achieved thatfeeling this year. l
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.