When you and your son move from one city to another, it’s important to meet the right people. That is, nice people who help you settle in and make you feel comfortable – welcome, even. So when my six-year-old son, Burt and I, moved from London to Nottingham, I knew I had to find a local football club to satisfy his newly found love of all things footie, to help him feel part of a new gang.
I won’t pretend to know the first thing about football, not least local teams and the ins and outs of signing up. So when I saw a chap tidying away what looked like junior football training kit in a park opposite Burt’s school, I approached him and asked if he knew of a suitable local team.
“ Phoenix Inham,” came his immediate reply. He assured me they were a ‘a team focused family club, and one that didn’t care just about winning.’ He gave me the head coach’s number, I called him, sent in the relevant documentation and, the next week, Burt and I were at training. Bingo.
I can’t pretend I wasn’t intimidated at our first meeting. I knew no one and was worried that Burt might also feel anxious (he was fine. BTW.) A game followed the next day and we carried on our weekly routine. I soon got to know some of the other parents. Burt became best friends with the coach’s son, whose mum and dad have since become friends. And within a short space of time, that was me: soccer mom.
Since, I have been touched by the kindness of these people – that is, the coaches and other parents. Of their emotional generosity and genuine decency. I’ve loved meeting people I perhaps wouldn’t have in any different situation. No-one seems to mind the absence of my football knowledge. Best of all, Burt is learning important teamwork skills from people he trusts and respects. He’s in his absolute element when at training and at games – what better gift could I have had in a potentially tricky transitional move than a team like Phoenix Inham?
If you’re looking for a club for your child to play at, I couldn’t be more positive about the experience Burt and I are having. Whilst it’s true that I might not understand the rules of the game, I do know when I’m onto a good thing.
See you pitch-side, I hope.