My Niece Explains Soccer

SoccerGrowing up, I was not one of the athletic kids. Nor were my sisters, or my cousins. Our failure at gym class was a recurring joke in my khandaan–extended family.

We were chubby little kids attempting to run around. It’s embarrassing, really. I dreaded the “Cats and Birds” game that we’d play in the gymnasium, always privately labeling myself as the slowest runner on the team. Once, I caught the fastest runner in my class during one of the rounds, but my teacher didn’t see, and of course, he didn’t admit I caught him. That was when I was in first grade. I’m now in my second year at college.

My brother was the only athletic one. When I got older, I began to appreciate sports a lot more, but appreciation unfortunately didn’t guarantee skill.

When my sister got married in 2003, my family and I had the pleasure of getting to know her fiance. One of the first things we noticed was all the pictures of him in his sports’ uniforms. He was a hockey player. And still, he’s into tennis and golf–not simply watching it, but actually stepping out onto the ice, court, and grass to play.

My sister and her husband’s now 5-year-old daughter was talking to me on the phone today. The conversation always starts off with, “What are you doing?” or “What did you do today?”

Instead of the regular “noth-ing,” she told me she played soccer in gym class at her pre-school. So I asked, “How do you play?”

Excited to explain the game to me, she quickly tried to get out as many words as she could in a single breath:

“You get ready to kick the ball, and then you keep kicking it, and then you kick it into the net!”

She said it’s her favorite game. I wish I was more into soccer, the real futbol. Those people are athletes. Much respect. Now, my niece is becoming one, too.

“I can even get the ball diagonal, and I can even get it straight!”

She said she’ll teach me the ways of the game next time we visit. Just for the record, I have kicked a soccer ball before. It didn’t go far, though.

And now for the game that I love: IT’S NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND 2012! Tipping off  right now is the Rising Stars Challenge. Tune into TNT; you won’t want to miss Team Shaq vs. Team Chuck tonight. The NBA is doing it BIG in Orlando.

Have I said that I love this game?

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