Whether adult or kid, there was a special connection with World Cup fans watching all over the world, and there is one thing my family does that anyone can do to capture the essence of the love of this global game:
Bring a soccer ball/football with you wherever you go.
Why is having a soccer ball on hand so special? You are ready for a fun pick up game anywhere, any time. Football is a connection that transcends the need for language. Young and old, you make friends in an instant.
For example, when we moved to a new town two years ago, we didn’t know anyone, so we’d just show up at a local park with a ball and we always had someone to play with, adults and kids. Even if you are by yourself, juggling the ball with your feet is a great way to pass the time if you have to wait somewhere.
This isn’t just a local tip for in the car, it is a traveling must: keep a soccer ball with you in your backpack for fun anytime. My 12 year-old even juggles in an empty corner while waiting for the luggage to appear at the airport and always attracts more fun.
My friend and artist T Duryea (@TinaDuryea) inspired me to communicate this simple yet powerful tip with with her recent post on Facebook showing children in Rome playing football in a piazza. She said, “You don’t need a perfect pitch to learn how to play. All you need is a ball.”
I noted, “We travel with a ball wherever we go and always find friends.”
Tina replied, “Rebecca, what a great idea when traveling with kids! The global language is ‘football’ after all.”
If you love soccer and haven’t seen the documentary, Pelada, about two U.S. soccer players after university traveling the world in search of pick-up games, I highly recommend it. The film will inspire you to be open to pick up and discovering the simple love of the game wherever you may be, whether in your own or another country.
Pelada inspired my family’s continued practice of bringing a soccer ball with us wherever we go, and we’ve found pick up with kids and adults not only at home, but also:
- On a Mexican beach
- In a park in Rome
- Outside the football stadium in Malta
- At a Luxembourg youth hostel with a traveling German soccer team
- On road trips around the United States
Here’s to the love of the game, amateur or professional, young and old, that connects us wherever we go (and remember to bring a ball).
Rebecca P. Cohen is author of the book, 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), the digital excerpt The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime, and inventor of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards. Rebecca’s work has been featured in Better Home and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Working Mother, Family Circle, Backyard Solutions, and Rebecca has appeared on live morning news shows around the country. Continually inspired by nature, the potential of all children, and world travel, Rebecca is writing a children’s book series to be published later this year. For more information visit RebeccaPlants.com.