Right. I haven't worn a soccer uniform since seventh grade, and anyone who knows me won't have me pegged as the jock type. I don't like watching sports on TV, and every bracket I've ever filled out has been organized entirely by how well I like the names of the teams or the cities they come from. Furthermore, I am nearly entirely non-competitive in nature.
But I love sports! Everything from croquet to ping pong to javelin...if it involves bodies and motion and performance and is not pure choreography, color me interested. Actually, I could probably get interested in choreography too if I could see the point! I am sure there is one.
In team sports particularly, I am pretty intrigued by the mental aspects of the match. It thrills me that an individual who is less physically capable can end up besting his or her opponent by wits, experience, and presence of mind. Even more intriguing is how a team full of lesser specimens, if they learn to work as a team and think as a team and keep their eyes on their egos can adapt to the punishing realities of the brute force they are faced with and end up confounding expectations. Add to that the mutual honing effect of each team meeting the other's challenges in real time, and you have a mighty complex and dynamic system emerging which is pretty interesting to watch and participate in. In general, I find rooting for one team or the other detracts from my enjoyment, even if I'm on one of the teams. I am interested in a good and challenging match for everyone (the exception is when one team is totally dominant with bad attitudes and the underdogs are getting demoralized...then I start rooting and every goal or point by them is a sweet and gratifying relief).
I have secretly sort of fancied the idea of coaching kids' soccer for a few years. I liked the notion of myself being a different kind of coach from what you often see. No posturing, no yelling, no getting hung up on scores and winning; instead the focus could be on development as players and as a team...crafting the learning, adding one more layer to the dynamics of the season by responding to the specific experience of each game at the next practice and the next game.
This post is partly motivated by meeting the challenge that came in from a friend to blog about soccer coaching and tie it in to Permaculture somehow. Well there it is. The Permaculture design process that I learned is what is known as an "iterative" process. That is to say that it consists of several or even many "passes" or "iterations" of the same basic process with the same basic constraints, but with changes or improvements made in each round. With Permaculture design, this means you start by getting your working parameters and priorities established, then start taking a crack at integrating them into a design. Looking at what you came up with, you judge it based on your criteria for success and try again. And again. And again. Until you feel satisfied that you've reached a settled point: the best working compromise possible under the circumstances, and a design that will help the clients (or the self) know how to direct their efforts in service of crafting a system that supports their thriving over the long haul. Perfection is unachievable, irrelevant, even a damaging constriction in this kind of process. Superlative performance is the goal, and the limits to that performance are always being extended, can never by found.
So does that sound like soccer, or what? The deep joy I get from each year's or each decade's successes on the land is somewhat mirrored by the deep joy of seeing a kid suddenly learn to dribble in the middle of a game and have her play transformed by it, or watching a kid shake off their reluctance to stick their foot into the action and learn to be bold with their motions, or for all of them to stretch out their legs and run for that ball! And the joy I also get from responding to each season's palette of successes and failures in the next iteration is furthermore mirrored in the enjoyment our team had this year talking over the last game and organizing our practices around it. OK, so there are limits to how involved the 4- and 5-year-olds got in that part of it, but it was a great start. I think we kept it light and fun, and it was great to see the kids eager to come to games and practice, and terrific to see them grow as players and as people over the weeks. I look forward to the fall season.