My name is William Eleazer, and I’ve been participating and volunteer coaching at E-Soccer since its inception in April, 2000. When I was eight, the last thing I wanted to do on Saturday mornings was to play soccer, let alone help other kids learn to play soccer. What I didn’t realize at the time was that E-Soccer would forever change my life by changing my character and my way of thinking.
Below are 5 lessons E-Soccer taught me that changed my life:
Think About Others
As a kid, and even now that I’ve graduated college, it has always been hard for me to think about others before myself. From the moment I would step on the field till the moment all other kids went home and the soccer equipment was loaded back into the cars, I was trained at E-Soccer to think about how I could help others. Although challenging at first, it eventually became second-nature for me to think about others, especially kids with special needs. This has helped me as a person both on and off the field.
Compassion, Not Conceit
Life often feels like it’s all about being the best, and sports are definitely about rising above the competition. But that’s not what I learned at E-Soccer! It become clear to me at an early age that what really mattered wasn’t how well I could do, but about having compassion on others who may not have had the physical capabilities that I was given. By volunteering, instead of learning an attitude of conceit, I gained an understanding that all people are to be respected and encouraged no matter their ability level.
How to Help
When working with someone with special needs or just about any kid between the age 4-12, it can take some serious creativity to help them! A person with a disability of any kind may not be able to verbally express how they feel, what they need, or what they want. I learned at E-Soccer that helping someone takes creativity, excitement, and perseverance. E-Soccer is a great program that has new people wanting to get involved and volunteer all the time. When I started to take more of a coaching roll, I learned that most people don’t naturally know how to lead a group of typical and special needs kids at the same time. Coaching at E-Soccer is not a one-man job. It’s a team effort. One thing E-Soccer has taught me is how to focus on the task at hand while making sure others around are also doing their roles well.
Courage to Initiate
One thing I always take away from E-Soccer is that no matter the challenges we have, at the end of the day, we are all people and all want to be friends. Very few of us are as great at communicating as we want to be. Learning that everyone wants the same relationships connections that I wanted taught me to have the courage to take the first step in building new friendships. Whether initiating a conversation on the field with someone that was too shy to come play, or saying hello to the person next to me at the coffee shop, it’s all about relationships and being unafraid to put yourself out there.