Over the years I have had many great experiences thanks to this great game. I have been a part of some great teams and had the opportunity to know a lot of amazing people. It seems, though, that every time I think I have seen or heard it all, I go back to the ballpark and hear something new.
This year I am helping a very talented 16 and under team, Impact Stewart. We had the opportunity to play the National Team from Germany recently. The anticipation was at a very high level because our team knew they were preparing to play a team getting ready to represent their country in international play.
We learned that the German National Team is made up of players from 18 to 30 years of age. Many of them are Americans with German ancestry, but many are actually from Germany. We were told that the German players didn’t play school or travel ball, but were involved in sport clubs. The coaching staff is running their training camp with about 20 players and will select their roster from that group.
Our kids made some very interesting observations over the course of the day, which led to some great questions. My answers are italicized:
What is that on the front of their jerseys?
What does that mean?
It’s the name of their country.
I thought they were from Germany?
It’s Germany, in German.
Then why isn’t it spelled in German?
Why do they wear shorts?
It’s the required uniform in international play. Team USA will wear shorts too.
No one wears shorts anymore, don’t they know that?
The tradition of wearing shorts started back in 1996 and hasn’t changed yet.
They played softball in 1996?
What language are they speaking?
Why do they all share helmets?
Some of the national teams are not that well funded so they don’t have tons of equipment.
What are those white patches on their sleeves?
Advertising. They have sponsors to try to offset cost. When you watch soccer on ESPN you see tons of advertising on the European teams.
They have soccer on ESPN?
All in all it was a great experience for everyone involved. Our team came away with a greater respect for the opportunities they are presented with. They got the chance to see a bunch of people who really love this game, playing it just for the love of the game and the love of their country.
That might have been the greatest lesson of the day!
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