If you’ve been following FaithFamilyFutbol and my #dreamchasing journey, you can go ahead and skip to the next paragraph, but if this is your first time reading, or you just need a refresher, I started playing soccer when I was roughly 3 years old. My parents didn’t grow up playing and essentially knew nothing about the game until I started playing. I played my first few years for The Salvation Army before wanting to play in a more competitive environment. My first “real team” was The Express, a recreational CASL team that primarily consisted of friends of mine in the neighborhood.
If you follow English soccer, The Express was like your local pub team - a team that consisted of players who lived in the neighborhood, who loved the game, and whose talent ranged from top to bottom. It was soccer being played in its truest form, for fun.
A few days ago, I was at the gym and bumped into a family friend. I was headphones in, in the middle of a set, and this older gentlemen who I didn't recognize, thought he recognized me. I only say that because I found myself locking eyes with him 3 or 4 times in between reps. We eventually introduced ourselves and I should’ve known that if someone recognized me in Raleigh, it was probably because they knew my parents or one of my siblings and sure enough, his older son played lacrosse with my brother Sutton a few years back. We got to talking and ended up talking about how he and his other son had been following me since my Wofford days and knew what I had been up to since. He told me that his youngest son, Jared, loved the game. He asked if I ever did individuals or lessons and if Jared was old enough? With a little chuckle, I answered, “absolutely!” I started playing when I was 3 years old, I grew up with 4 younger siblings and have been essentially baby-sitting my whole life. If you love the game and are old enough to walk, run and kick, you’re old enough to play in my opinion!
So… we ended up exchanging information and found a day that worked for both of us. That day was today. One of the coldest days of the winter thus far in Raleigh… But unless its lightning, there’s really nothing else that could keep me off the pitch. As for a third grader, well that’s a different question… but we trained so we’ll let that speak for us.
If you made it this far, you probably are wondering what’s the point to all of this rambling. Well, I met Jared today where it all started for me. Back when I played for The Express, we practiced at Banbury Park here in Raleigh. There’s nothing special about it. There’s a play area for kids, a walking path for adults, and a field with a few soccer goals. Today though, everything about it was special. I got to train on the field where I first trained. I got to share my love for the game with a futboler from the next generation of players. I got to give back to the community that raised me and best part about it, I got a fan for life!
Days like today are what make it all worth it!