The World Cup is finally here. The world’s biggest sports event kicked off today with a fierce match between hosting nation South Africa and Mexico. Over the next few weeks, teams from 32 nations will face off on South Africa’s soccer fields, vying for the world championship.
All over the world, businesses will be shutting down and pubs will be overflowing with brightly colored fans. For the next four weeks,
While a lot of Americans remain mysteriously apathetic to professional soccer, there’s one demographic that absolutely has soccer fever: our kids. The World Cup is the perfect chance to show your little soccer star the best of the sport.
If the only games you’ve ever watched featured pint-size players and more snacks than scores, you’ll want to brush up a bit on soccer culture to get the most from this event.
Here’s a soccer mom’s guide watching the World Cup with your kids.
- Pick your matches. Unless you’re a die-hard fan, and willing to hit the pause button on your life till mid-July, you won’t be able to catch every match. Check out the match schedules and choose the teams and match-ups you absolutely don’t want to miss.
- Pick your teams. The first round of World Cup games features groups playing against each other; the top teams in each group will go on to the final elimination rounds. If you care about a particular team, make sure to catch them right from the beginning. Hot tip: the U.S. team is up against England tomorrow at 2:30. England is a top team. If you want to see the U.S. play in this World Cup, watch them now, because they may not make it past the qualifying rounds.
- Decide how to watch the games. You can watch them at home and make it a family thing, or you can go out to a restaurant or pub and celebrate the game with other fans. My husband, who hails from Argentina, recommends going out to watch a game at least once. “There’s a whole culture of going out to games. You get the mob effect of people watching the game together.”
- Know some basic game rules. Even if your kids have been playing soccer for years, they may be confused by “offsides” calls, the “little flags” running up and down the sidelines and the color-coded fouls. Yellow is a warning, red means you’re out.
- Be prepared for the oddities of soccer culture. You’ll see a lot of players rolling on the turf wailing and flailing when another player touches them. They’re not really hurt, in most cases. This is called “foul theater”, creating a scene over a minor injury in the hopes of getting another player kicked out. This is all part of the game.
- Make time for the kids to get out and play after a game. This was my soccer-loving husband’s #1 tip. “You get all soccer excited and want to go kick a ball and do the moves you just saw,” he said.
Enjoy the games, both on-screen and on the field!
Photo: Beth Rankin