Sunday, April 9, 2017

Monolingual Soccer Players Have it Tough

Yes, Youngest is still all about the football. And, yes, I'm talking about real football, not the American battering sport of 300-pound men sucking oxygen after running 10 yards.

I could probably search through the archives of this ancient blog and find many references to the battles he has fought on the field and the battles we have all fought off the field. The world of youth sports is exactly like the real world: fucked up by idiots.

Our latest saga involves a competitive club he's been playing with for two years. The first year was mostly fantastic. The second year left a lot to be desired, but I understand that was the case for many youth soccer players as the national organization changed the age groupings, throwing all teams into chaos. So, last year was good only for getting the three 1.5-hour practices in each week. At least he didn't go backwards in skill.

But if you're 14 and you have a goal of playing soccer for the rest of your life, you need to find a coach who is going to up your game, improve your strategic thinking about the game, and, damn it, get you to have at least some fun in the process. The third year with this club is now underway, and he's on a good team with, as always, a couple of exceptions.

The Director of Coaching (AKA the head of the club) is listed as his coach, but in name only. The real coach is a fine fellow by the name of Jesus. There's just one little problem with Jesus (that I can discern at this early stage). He only speaks Spanish.

Now, if Youngest were playing with the Bricenos or another Latino area club, that wouldn't be an issue. Of course, Youngest doesn't play for one of those clubs because he only speaks English (and first-year high school French). In fact, half of the kids on his team only speak English.


Not surprisingly, the monolingual kids and their parents have been pushing the DOC to get us an English-speaking coach. The DOC has dug in his heels and essentially said, "Take it or leave it."


We head out to our second game of spring league in a few minutes. Our first game was yesterday. We got to witness the coach yelling out instructions to players who, upon hearing their name called, turn to listen and then...stare...and wait...until one of the bilingual kids on the bench translated the instructions. Thank GOD soccer is such a slow-paced game.

My email to them this morning was as direct as I'm going to be, before we take our soccer ball and team bench and go elsewhere:

"I want to reiterate the opinion expressed by Pete earlier: Jesus does not speak English well enough to communicate with my monolingual English son. That was evidenced 100% repeatedly in the first match of the season yesterday. We don't doubt he is a fine coach. But we don't know that because Youngest is unable to understand what he says to him. The need to have other players translate what is wanted is not feasible in the moment that communications is necessary as the players are on the field. I know David has made it clear that Jesus is the coach for that team. Pete and I need to make it clear that Youngest does not speak Spanish and needs a coach who speaks English. I will not speak for the many other monolingual boys on the team. I will only speak for Youngest. And I'm afraid I, too, can only speak it in English."

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