With this said, the boy's and girl's soccer season ended today with a round-robin tournament. Being the head coach for both teams, there were inevitable scheduling conflicts so Leanne did much of the coaching for the girls team (she has been helping me coach all season too).
The girl's season started off like a Disney movie about a rag-tag group of players and their overzealous coach playing the other team that was seasoned, fit and talented. At our first game, the opening whistle blew and before I could find my water bottle, we were down 1-0 - my watch reading 17 seconds into the game. The next 40 minutes of the game were no better, as many of the girls struggled with the rules and movement of the game. We lost our first game 8-0, our second game 5-1 and today we played the same team (there is only one other team for them to play) in the tournament. The girls heroically held their opponent to a 0-0 score at half and with 5 minutes left, they let in just one goal, losing 0-1. Honestly, and amazing improvement. Because of odd scheduling, the girls did most of their training in the morning, showing up on time and practicing before school. Coaching them was incredibly enjoyable, they were energetic, optimistic and hardworking all season. I loved coaching them.
My boys team was a different story all together. I was blessed to coach 13 remarkably talented soccer players and friends who would get together each for practice on Tuesdays, Thursdays and kick-arounds on Saturdays and play until they were unable to run any longer. We had a very successful season. We went 9-1, were scored on 3 times (2 own goals) and scored 29 goals. We won the tournament today with little doubt of who was the best team in the tournament, winning our first game 1-0, our second 2-0, our third 2-1 and the championship match 7-0.
I do not say this to flaunt or brag, I say it because my players were remarkable today. The practiced hard, ran hard and wanted to win and they made it happen. I have not coached for long but I know that the group of players that was on the field today was special. They played and beat teams that are competitive with the best teams throughout South East Asia, did not let down once and dominated their tournament. Congratulations to them!
Knowing the talent level I had with this group of boys, I challenged them this season be a "great team" and not just a "good team." Great teams play their game all of the time, never playing down to the level of their opponent. Great teams play with class and never disrespect or devalue the other team. Great teams have no division amongst them, each of them realizing that they are better as a group than they will ever be as individuals. Since losing a game three weeks ago, I challenged the boys to prove that they were not just good but great, and today they proved their point.
Each season I learn a lot more about coaching and not just the x's and o's of the game. I am learning how to coach different players, who I can push and who I need to approach with care. But most importantly, I am learning what it takes to cultivate a team full of quality people. This season, more than wins and losses, my players learned how to respect their opponent even when the game is long over, how to support their teammate even when they sitting on the bench and how to win and lose with class.
I learned a lot of lessons playing soccer that have transferred to my adult life. I had coaches that I respected and others that I knew cared more about the final score line than the players on the field that produced the goals or made the saves. I hope to coach for a long time, but more than coach for wins and losses, I hope that I never take the numbers on the score board too seriously or care about them more than the players who produce them.