As a Latina, I grew up watching soccer. When I lived in Chile, the country would be almost paralyzed every time the national team was playing. Once I moved back to the U.S., I missed that feeling every four years when the World Cup would be on (although, yes, it’s true that South Americans take their love of soccer a bit too far at times).
But this year, for the first time, my kids are old enough to enjoy watching the games with my husband and I and it has made me quite nostalgic for my childhood. Time seems to stop when we watch the games together. Even if phones and tablets are nearby, my kids, husband, and I focus only on the game; on jumping with joy when our favorite teams score or even getting a bit teary-eyed when the U.S., Chile, or Mexico lost. We comment on the referees, laugh at the fans’ faces, and even take turns imitating the Univision sports commentators. It’s not that we don’t usually watch TV or movies as a family (we do), but since there are so many games during the World Cup, we have done it so much more over the past two weeks — and it’s has been a wonderful bonding experience I didn’t expect.
And (much to my surprise) the games have also provided endless teachable moments. Some classic lessons they’ve learned include …
1. Believe in yourself (and ignore the naysayers).
Even if the odds are stacked against you and people seem to enjoy saying you have no chance of being good at something, you can prove them wrong. I was overjoyed every time I saw the U.S. team on the field. Few thought they could advance past the first round and they turned millions into believers. Now goalie Tim Howard is a household name … and has the memes to prove it.
2. Keep fighting until the end.
In sports you know that every second counts but as the World Cup has shown over and over again, you need to keep fighting until the game is finally over. When Portugal scored against the U.S. (and tied the game) with less than thirty seconds remaining, my entire family couldn’t believe it. However, it served as a reminder to my kids that you can never throw in the towel until the game is really over.
3. No matter how good one person is, you can achieve even greater things as part of a team.
Soccer is full of amazing players but if they don’t learn to work as a team when representing their country, chances are they won’t advance to the next round. Cristiano Ronaldo, from Portugal, is a great player but his team once again failed to deliver. The same thing happened to Spain. However, Chile, Costa Rica, and Colombia surprised everybody when facing teams that have always been the favorites. Working as a team means checking your ego to achieve a greater good.
Have you watched the 2014 World Cup at all? Let me know if it’s been special for you, too.
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