Evergreen is a soccer club in here in Kilkenny – with teams from tots right up to seniors.
The 9 year-olds I coach prepared last Saturday for their first game in over 2 months – against arch city rivals Freebooters.
We conceded an early goal. Then another. Then another! Yikes – just mid-point through the first half and we’re 0:3 down.
But we steadied the ship a little and managed to pull one back. At half time we’re 1:3 down and I’m trying to encourage them – telling them they’ve actually had as much possession as the opposition, that they just need to be more focussed, mark tighter at the back, look for a free teammate when in possession, etc…
But… we concede another goal early in the 2nd half – we’re now 1:4 down. My own challenge now was to not let the kids see that I thought we were beaten.
After a few minutes we score to make it 2:4. Ok – that makes it respectable.
Then we score to make it 3:4. There are stirrings of hope…
We concede AGAIN. We’re 3:5 down – with just 10 minutes to go.
We score – 4:5. Wow – we have them rattled now!
We score the equaliser – 5:5.
I check my watch. 30 seconds to go. We regain possession. We have time for one last attack. The momentum is all with us.
One of our lads has the ball and is driving right at their goal when one of their players comes in from the side and takes boy and ball in a ferocious tackle. Did he get the ball first or the boy first? Opinions are, let us say, contentious and “colourfully audible”!
The referee blows his whistle. Is it for a free? Or is it the final whistle? Might we get one more shot to try and score the winner?
Sadly it was the final whistle. But our recovery had been fantastic.
And here’s the thing. When we had gone 1:4 down I honestly felt we were beaten. Afterwards we had a huddle. I lavished praise on them. I admitted to them that I had thought they were beaten – but that they had proved me wrong. You’d have paid money to see their pride in themselves.
Who was teaching who I wondered to myself on the drive home…
It can be tough out there in business. But the next time you think you’re beaten – maybe give a bit of thought to the Evergreen U10 soccer team!
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