Over the weekend, I attended a youth soccer game here in San Antonio. This particular contest was played by kids ranging in age from 9-to-10. A boy named Caleb captured my attention. He was one of the best on the team, and I could tell that he was going to do whatever it took to win the game.
When the game began, Caleb was assigned the position of forward. In other words, he spends most of his time near the opponent’s goal hoping to strike the ball into the back of the net. This player is known for good ball handling skills, and can jostle with the best.
Caleb plays for a team called San Antonio United. On this particular day, they were playing a talented Chelsea team. While the kids were about the same age, the Chelsea players looked bigger, faster, and more agile.
United stayed close for the first part of the game. They were behind just by a couple of goals at halftime to a very good team. Caleb worked hard to get to the ball, and had several good shots on goal. However, the Chelsea goalie made excellent stops.
At the beginning of the second half, the Chelsea strength took over, and they scored several quick goals. Before you knew it, they were up 7 to 2. Around this time, the United coach made his programmed substitution and Caleb took over the goalie role.
I was watching the game from behind the goal, and had a good perspective of how Caleb was handling the game. When first assuming the goalie duties, he stopped several strikes from the formidable Chelsea players. These boys were adept at passing the ball, which resulted in wide-open shots on goal. Eventually, several goals were scored on Caleb.
I’ve watched youth soccer games for several years, and many young goalies are upset when a goal is scored on their watch, but they are sometimes nonchalant in their reaction.
Not Caleb! When a goal was scored on him, he groaned loudly, upset that he allowed a score. However, he never blamed anyone. He took full responsibility, and was ready for the next attack on his goal.
His father was heard yelling:
“Caleb, that was a tough shot. You couldn’t do much about it.”
“Good try, Caleb! You’ll stop it next time.”
Those words of encouragement helped Caleb stay focused.
While I will probably never know Caleb when he joins the workforce, I do know that he has the skills and fortitude to be a top-notch leader. He is going to demand the best of himself, and he will not make excuses. When someone falls short on a team project, he will help that person get back on track. Best of all, he is not going to point fingers at anyone, for any reason.
San Antonio United lost to Chelsea by a score of 10-3. The game was not close, but Caleb and his team played hard until the final whistle. After the game, the players went their separate ways with their parents.
I could tell that Caleb took the loss a bit tough, especially since several goals were scored on him. In fact, I heard him say to his father, “Dad, I can’t believe I let that team score four goals on me. That will not happen again.”
What an impressive young man.