This is a photo of my AYSO Region 644 U-10 girls' team, whom I had the pleasure of working with this past summer at the AYSO National Games Tournament. There were 16 girls' teams in our age group from all over the United States, some from as far away as California and even Hawaii. We were clearly the youngest and smallest team. However, we had the biggest hearts and best attitude of all.
I personally have been around a while and have won many awards in soccer during my life. I played professional soccer for 13 years, I am in the NJCAA Soccer Hall of Fame from my college playing days and I even have a Pele shirt from the game when I had the opportunity to mark the King. I am pretty lucky and proud of my accomplishments.
You would think that someone with my soccer background won’t take a little award like the “AYSO GIRLS U-10 SPORTMANSHIP” so seriously! Well, I didn’t think so either.
About two weeks after we returned home form the National Games tournament, our Weston Regional Commissioner, Alan Dagen called me and said, “I have some great news, our U-10 girls have won the AYSO Nationals Sportsmanship award! Congratulations, Tom! That’s what we are all about!”
It wasn’t until a few minutes after we hung up that I thought about what he had said and let it sink in. I actually got a little choked up as I was telling my wife.
As a life time soccer person that cares so much about our sport and the people that are involved, the bottom line is: Sure! We are trying to develop young players that can play at the highest level. Players, that perhaps, even represent our country at the national team level. At the same time and even more importantly, we are trying to develop good, respectful humans with a set of core values that will last them a life time and help them succeed in the most important game, the game of life!
I have decided to hang my Sportsmanship medal alongside my most prized possession, Pele's jersey!
Thank you, young ladies, for reminding me of what really counts.