The boys and I have been pretty excited about the PanAm Games being in Toronto. Now, for those of you who aren’t in Toronto, the Games are really being held in Toronto, Milton, Mississauga, St. Catherine’s, Hamilton and a few more suburbs on the other side of Toronto. So, really, they aren’t just being held in Toronto and this makes getting to them a logistical nightmare; from where we are, getting to any of the venues takes some effort.
But so does raising a child. How could I not give my boys the opportunity to see some of our national athletes compete on home soil? Tickets are reasonably priced and they include the cost of public transit. Soccer was the obvious choice as games are at the Tim Horton Stadium in Hamilton, which is close to home, one son plays soccer and the other referees the game. For me, it is important that my guys see Canada play.
Yesterday, the three of us dressed in Canada’s colours and headed to the GO station to watch Brazil play Peru and, then, Canada face Panama. We got to the stadium in time to watch Brazil, Peru and their referees warm up. Son #1 had his eyes on the refs and was obviously taking mental notes on what he could be doing before he takes charge of the field. I pointed out to both boys that a lot of the drills are the same as the ones that we use when running and reminded them that a lot of world-class runners use to be soccer players. When I heard, “Look, he’s doing some accelerations!” I knew that running terminology was becoming more and more natural to the littlest dude. What I also liked was seeing a different drill – a combination of A’s and side-stepping – that I will use with the kids when I start coaching cross-country again.
Oddly enough, the first game between Brazil and Peru seemed to take forever. I had one restless child who was losing interest quickly. We broke the monotony of sitting by going for walks, getting a drink, and exploring the stadium. Half-way through the second half, he wanted to go home. I waited for the ultimate meltdown to occur. “Relax,” I told him. “When Canada gets on the field, the game will be so much better. You’ll see.”
And it was. Even though it was an 8:30 start and only about 40% of the stadium was filled (a lot of people left after the first game), it was the place to be. We cheered, we did the wave (many times), we watched a beach ball being bumped around from section to section until a volunteer took it away, and we cheered some more. The littlest dude asked for his ipod, which we brought for the train ride home, so that he could take some pictures. There were no requests to go for a walk; there wasn’t any whining about being tired of sitting. Without a doubt, he was happy. And my teen? He was thrilled that he was able to watch, not one, but two games with national level athletes.
Both boys loved the chance to see our athletes play so close to home. We talked about how sad it was to see the stands so “grey” during the second game. “Yeah, Canadians need to watch our own team play, not just leave,” commented the littlest dude. And he is right. Seeing Brazil play Peru was great, but supporting Canada is really what it is all about. We did – and we’re going back for more. Go Canada!