Pretty much every day, Oliver asks to go to the stade* to play soccer. He’s always been an athlete, and much to this soccer-playing-momma’s delight, he excels on the pitch. Oli still gets a little annoyed with me for saying soccer, even after six months in France. I just can’t get used to calling it foot. I digress.
Here in Loches, Oli is playing more than ever. Even the rec teams at his level are pretty serious. Two 1-1/2 hour practices a week as well as a game, and they have to earn their spots on one of the three tiered teams each week based on their play at the practices and previous weekend’s game.
The culture around the game here is really interesting, even at the local level. The whole town is excited and involved. Our men’s teams play every weekend at the Stade, and there is always a crowd. The concession will be in full swing, selling beer and wine, coffee and tea, and even vin chaud in the winter.
As for the kids teams, their game day is almost as big a deal. Teams meet at the field quite early, and there are locker rooms for home and away. The boys get dressed as a team, in combination with a little pre-game pep talk from the coach. Warmup is about an hour, followed by the game. Post-game usually includes a friendly competition, like juggling or penalty kicks. After this, the boys all go in and shower, and once dressed and presentable, they share goûter (snack). The home team is responsible for providing for everyone, and for the next half hour or so we all mill around while the boys devour nutella on baguettes, cake, brioche, compôte (applesauce), pop and juice. It is quite the production.
Between the extra time on the pitch with his training and his obsession with playing on his own nearly every day, the improvement in Oliver’s play this year has been pretty awesome to witness. My left-footed self bursts with pride every time I watch him whip a corner or a cross off the left side. I’d like to think he inherited that from me 😉
During the holidays, Danica took an interest in football as well, and we bought a ball just for her. After a couple years of uncertain play back home where she was pretty hot-and-cold about the game, she has announced that she’s truly ready to play when we get back to Victoria. I am so excited to watch her play.
I snapped these photos one beautiful afternoon during the holidays when we all went down to the Stade. The kids are getting a little tired of my lens always being in their space, but every now and again, they still turn their attention my way.
*(We don’t have a yard at our home in Loches, but just a few minutes’ walk down the street is the local stadium, Stade Maréchal Leclerc, where Oliver loves to practice footie.)