Green Shoots

The French say “Une fois n’est pas coutume” — one time isn’t a habit. I don’t like to make a big deal over a good performance, because I don’t like a big deal over a bad one either. I tell the boys winning and losing doesn’t matter and so to live that, it’s important not to make a big deal out of an outcome.

That said, I think everyone can see that we looked pretty good in the last two weeks, v. Evolution and Arsenal. Defense looks better (second defender), passing is coming along and the boys have scored some excellent goals. But the two things I like the best about the boys right now are:

* there’s a heartbeat of self-determination among the boys. we’re starting with the warm-up. I stopped leading it a few weeks ago and they do it themselves. When I was late to the Diablos Rojos game, they did it on their own; by the time I got there, they’d finished. In scrimmages they determine their own positions.I love that they are taking responsibility and thinking for themselves; it makes them better players and of course should apply in other areas of their lives.
* the team does not depend on any one player for its success. With a team like Arsenal, we quickly saw that their # 0 on the right wing was a very good player, and their #2 was quite fast. If you were scouting our team, who would you pick to look out for? We’ve had goals from seven different players  recently, for example. Who’s our goalkeeper? five, usually. Our better playmakers are three in number. Every boy is well-rounded, all can dribble and tackle and pass and shoot.

Which brings me to today and the French quote. We share a field with PSG (Paris St. Germain), the top team in our league. In the fall, they were 8-0-1 and beat us 6-1 and 5-0. Jon asked us if we wanted to scrimmage (I didn’t really) but I thought it’d be rude to say no. So we did, we had 15 players and I was focused on keeping everyone in the game; we subbed three-four players at a time and all the boys played some in defense, some in midfield and some up front. This is not a good thing to do if you are trying to win, but I was trying to maximize the fun, letting everyone get a chance to play forward.

We beat them, 2-1. Our goals were scored by two boys who weren’t on the original list seven above.

Today is only one day, we had the wind at our backs and a little luck. But I think it is significant that we could play PSG this well and combined with the last few games it shows that the boys are clearly improving, they are learning how to run the team themselves, and on a given day it is impossible to know where our best performances will come from. I don’t think any of the boys feels like a role player or a bench-warmer, and no one feels like the star of the team. That’s a healthy culture.

We are not a great team yet, but I am seeing the green shoots of spring. The boys are growing and thriving. It’s a good feeling to be the coach of this side right now.

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