And on my team, they were there to learn about
playing as members of a team and showing good sportsmanship at all
times. All of the other benefits came as results of the work
they did on the field. The self-confidence and higher level
of ability came as results of the efforts that they put forth and
of the amount of encouragement that they received from me and
Alex thrived in an environment of encouragement and
teaching. We didn't try to turn him into a soccer player--we
tried to teach him what he needed to do and let him do the rest,
and we watched the other aspect of who he was bloom as this one
small part of his life came into place.
I often think of Alex when I see parents with
"problem" children, or when I see kids that don't seem
to have any self-confidence or even a sense of self. I
wonder when I see them if the kids have always had adults trying
to "fix" their "problems," not realizing that
if they were to encourage the children to develop their true
strengths, many of these "problems" would go away as a
result of their confidence in another area.
I know that in my life, developing confidence in one area
always bleeds over into something else, and I'm able to accomplish
more in other areas simply because I've gotten better at something
else. On the other hand, consistently failing (or not living
up to the expectations of others) at something has brought me down
in other areas. I stopped painting as a teen because of the
criticism I got from family members, and that "failure"
definitely affected me in other areas (though I did take up
painting later in life when I no longer cared what others thought
of my work).
We must trust that what we're doing has a purpose. We
must realize that we're not here to make kids conform or perform,
but that we're here to help them to develop their own unique
skills and talents, not the ones we want them to have or the ones
we think they should have.
I wouldn't even be surprised if some of Alex's new-found
confidence on the soccer field bled over in to his school work or
other areas of his life where a certain level of confidence is
necessary for success. And I wouldn't be surprised if Alex
were to grow up one day to help someone else to gain confidence in
one area of his or her life. And isn't that all we really
can do in this life--provide a base for our youth to build and
grow from, so that at some time in the future, they can give a
similar, stronger base to young people in their lives?
I'm very thankful that Alex came into my life, if even for such
a short time. He had an awful lot to teach me.