June 12 marks the beginning of soccer’s FIFA World Cup, the biggest single sporting competition in the world that only happens every four years. This month long competition features 64 games between 32 of the best teams in the world. Brazil hosts the World Cup this time around, and is the only country to have been featured in every World Cup since its inaugural tournament in 1930. Brazil is also the country who has won the tournament the most, with 5 World Cup titles. More than 715 million people watched the World Cup final in Germany in 2006. That means 1 in 7 people on the PLANET watched that game.
Soccer is by far the most widely played game around the world. The United States has never won the World Cup, our highest achievement was placing 3rd in the 1930 tournament. But soccer is on the rise in America. US Youth Soccer is the largest youth sports organization in America with nearly 3 million registered kids between 5 and 19. That’s millions and millions of parents driving kids to soccer practice week in and week out, and carting them to games on the weekends.
When the game our kids play is played on the world stage, it gives us, as moms, a great teaching opportunity. The coaches will tell the kids to watch the game to get playing tips. But us moms know better. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association-the international governing body for soccer has been running a campaign to highlight the values of respect, fair play and discipline. Their “Say No To Racism” campaign has taken social media by storm. These are all lessons we want our children to learn. The majority of the athletes will be on their best behavior with such a massive title on the line. What a great chance for our kids to see professionals acting like professionals. Of course there will be bad behavior too. But that is also a teaching opportunity. “Did you see him knock that player over? You did? But did you see him reach out to help him to his feet?”
You don’t have to watch every game, soccer matches last at least 90 minutes. But use this once in every 4 year opportunity to show your kids where hard work can get you. Even if your child never makes it to the world stage, it will help teach them to be proud of their country and gain respect for people around the world. We live in a big world, but this summer we will all be brought together to cheer for the “beautiful game.”