By: Olivia Aha, Spider Soccer Junior
I was eight years old and it was summertime when my mom woke me up at what felt like the crack of dawn with a jolt.
“You have soccer camp today!” she told me. “It’s almost two hours away, so we have to leave soon.”
I remember thinking that soccer camp was the last thing I wanted to do if it meant getting up so early. But my mom got me up, packed me a lunch, and off we went. I had no idea that this camp was about to change my life.
I spent the next five days with fellow campers at Ferdie’s Soccer Magic learning from the most passionate soccer coach I have ever met. Ferdie taught me all about technique – from the specifics of differing juggling techniques, to the execution of every type of dribbling move one could imagine. Every day at camp we learned something new and we competed hard, because Ferdie loved fierce competition.
Most importantly, he taught us “It’s all about the love.” This is what he would say at the beginning of every camp morning, during every drill and every break time. This is also what he would shout out with joy whenever he saw a camper do something impressive. It was his mantra that set the tone of the entire camp experience.
Soccer was not just a sport to him. It was a lifestyle, and one that was centered around love. His joy and his love for the sport were infectious. He told us all that we had to create a relationship with our soccer ball. He encouraged us to kiss our soccer balls and to sleep with our soccer balls in our beds. If you really wanted to be great and have excellent skill, you could never forget to love your ball, and love the game.
So that’s what I did.
I slept with my soccer ball after that first day at camp and continued to do so for the rest of the year. I asked my mom every night as I was tucking in my soccer ball next to me if I would always love soccer. She told me I would always love it because it was a part of me. I think she was right.
I went to the camp every summer until I was too old to attend. I have never been able to get myself to throw out a single Ferdie’s Soccer Magic camp t-shirt because of what it means to me.
I fell completely in love with soccer because of Ferdie and I have never looked back.