The event was supposed to start at 12 pm and go until 4 pm, so we figured some kids would show up and we’d kick the ball around for a while and that would be super cool!
By 1:45 pm there was a full on 7 v 7 game with kids (ages 5-15) still joining the game. If not for the “referees” that demanded a water break, the game would’ve gone until 4 pm. An intermission was given and the next game was to start at 2:30 pm sharp.
Kids all gathered with their families to drink some water and gatorade and you could hear a parent say “Que bonito gol hiciste!” These are all local Santa Ana families who were at Memorial Park attending an awesome community event put together by the Santa Ana Unified School District called Party in the Park.
At 2:10 pm, kids with their own ball organized their own game of “Mete Gol,” where a player (usually the one who’s ball it is) starts in goal and the other 10+ kids would all try to score a goal. When you scored, you then become the goalie and the kid who was in goal the longest by the end of the game would be respected. It is a game about PRIDE.
By 2:30 pm, we had begun the “Final Game” with a full on 10 v 10 game. All the kids were brought in and reminded that “nobody is getting hurt today and we are all friends and are here to have fun and help each other.” The kids all unanimously agreed and we brought it in for a LOUD “1, 2, 3… KINGS PRO” led by one of the kids.
The red team was leading 4-1 in a game to 5 goals! The blue team managed to tie the game 4-4 though. So we played “last goal wins.” The game ended at 3:30 pm with the red team snatching the victory, but all the kids left winners.
You could see the kids leaving with smiles on their faces and talking about their cool goal or sweet pass.
These kids had just engaged in a very high-energy, positive, team-bonding game which required them to communicate effectively, cooperate, and step out of your comfort zone. Kids would join the game and introduce themselves to their teammates and quickly play to help the team. “You score lots of goals so you play forward” they would say to each other.
At the end of the day, it was a competitive pick-up game that was all about pride. None of the kids want to lose so for a moment, they focus on one goal. Win as a team. They begin to strategize. And now everyone is into the game.
For an hour, these kids did not have a worry in the world. They weren’t thinking about how much homework they had later that day or that they have a quiz on Monday. The field is a place of peace where you can go and enjoy a good time with good people.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Santa Ana and it is awesome to see so many kids come together just to have the chance to win a game of pick-up.
The beautiful game.
Thank you to our friends at Santa Ana Unified School District for having us!