I’m a soccer mom, I admit it. It’s ironic really, since I hated soccer in high school. I remember playing defense and feeling so bored with the game.
Now, thanks to my boys I not only cheer them on from the sidelines of their games, I also enjoy professional soccer on television. I’ve become a great fan of the game.
Zayd started learning soccer skills at age 4 and Muneeb joined in the fun when he was just a toddler. My husband, Yusuf, grew up loving soccer so the three of them would kick the ball around both inside and outside our home. I felt left out.
A couple of years ago we discovered that Muneeb’s love for soccer was independent of Zayd’s interest in the game. Muneeb was developing tremendous enthusiasm for soccer, loving every aspect. In fact, he became a soccer fanatic and I think he rubbed off a little on me. I’ve learned about game rules, FIFA and famous soccer personalities all through him. Believe it or not, I’ve also learned more about world geography.
But on a more personal level, I’ve discovered the excitement and joy that come with our children’s outdoor soccer season, running ever year from May to September. During these months, we spend at least 4 days a week on the field for a game or a practice plus we enjoy a couple of weekend tournaments. Game nights become wonderful evenings where we come together as a family to share the special ups and downs of each game. And whether it is pouring rain or a hot summer night, there are always smiles, reassurances and stories to talk about on the way home. In the end, I’ve discovered that these soccer games are a great stress outlet for all of us.
We also bond with the coaches and other families on the team. After all, the soccer field becomes a sort of “home away from home” and I find it’s a fun way to meet and interact with people we would normally never socialize with. My kids have always attended Islamic school so soccer has provided us with a social avenue to the broader Canadian community. Over the years we’ve joined together in lighthearted conversations, tense and exciting game moments, and special post-game trips to Dairy Queen.
The amusing part in all of this is that I often embarrass my family when my passion for the game takes over and I shout out with a bit of excessive enthusiasm. I get quite animated and it’s rather funny since I’m not usually a loud person. But there I am on the sidelines with many others, some acquaintances, some strangers and I’m cheering whole-heartedly, not feeling an ounce of timidity: “Fight for the ball!” “You can do it!” “Get in there, it’s yours!”
Sometimes I wonder what the other parents think of this zealous, hyper mom in hijab. Well, at least they won’t think I’m oppressed.
Will you ever find me kicking the ball down a soccer field again? For now I’m only a big fan of watching the game. But sometimes I wonder if one day I’ll hear my children squealing, “Goal Mama Goal!”
Mayce Ibraheem lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two sons.