Football and Friendship

Kara Melissa by Kara Melissa Additional Needs

Kara Melissa

Kara Melissa

International school teacher turned stay-at-home mom. World traveller, food maker, writer, quilt maker, dreamer, activist, advocate, and part-time...

We call it soccer in Canada but my husband still calls it football.

And Sebastian loves to watch it.

I was never sure if he would enjoy watching sports because I thought he would never play them.

But he loves watching all of them, basketball, soccer, American football.

Always with his dad.

And as it turns out, he plays one too.

Every week Sebastian plays in an all abilities soccer league with his younger sister.

When Sebastian was still in pre-school one of his teachers set him up to kick goals during playtime outside.

At first she would hold him up under his arms so he could kick the ball to the goal. The other three year olds would cheer him on and run up and say 'you are great at making goals Sebastian.'

Once he got his Kidwalk walker; he started kicking those goals independently.

I loved seeing the photos of their play time at school and hearing the stories.

I was so thankful he went to an integrated preschool so he could have these opportunities.

I never imagined he would play in a league or on a team.

When he was 5 he moved up to another school, and while it wasn't integrated with typical kids, he still had gym time and the opportunity to play games with kids of different abilities.

Sebastian had an amazing gym teacher who came up to me after school one day and told me how he had kicked the oversized beach ball all the way across the gym during class.

He had been so happy and so proud of himself.

Sebastian was playing soccer and he loved it.

We did our best to play with him outside during the warmer months, going for walks to the open space across the street and kicking the ball.

He needed one of us to steer him in his Kidwalk and sometimes encourage him, especially when he got tired.

He also needed a flat, hard surface, so playing on a football pitch wasn't possible.

We found out about an all abilities soccer group meeting at the facility where his school was, in the same gym, on Sunday afternoons.

It was right during his lunch time but we decided to try it out.

Once we did, there was no looking back.

He was in love with the game and we were in love with him playing it.

He has a volunteer that helps him steer and encourages him so we can sit on the sidelines and cheer him on.

There are skills the kids work on for most of the session and at the end they play a friendly match.

I love watching his sister run over to check on him or even better, try to block one of his balls from the goal.

Sibling rivalry.

The kids pass each other the ball and cheer each other on.

It takes Sebastian triple the time to get to one side of the gym to the other so he can't participate fully in the game.

But the kids always pass the ball to him to make a goal at least once and his smile is priceless.

The independence and camaraderie Sebastian feels during the hour he's playing soccer means so much to me and even more to him.

This summer we were invited to play in a league outside in a nearby park, by the same teacher that had introduced soccer to Sebastian over four years ago.

Uncertain about the grass, we helped him navigate the terrain to the goal and he practiced his kicks and foot skills with a friend that used to share his bus route, so excited to see him and so full of enthusiasm.

They took turns cheering each other on; her with words of excitement and he with vocalizations and smiles.

The sun setting behind them, both accessing the football in their own way, he in his walker and her in her Upsee, they were out there in a local park, just playing soccer.


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