If you’ve ever wanted to learn the Seattle Sounders FC “way” while also reading a fictional tale about a young African soccer player moving to the United States, your dreams have been answered. Children’s author Claire Meeker as combined them into a book entitled “Soccer Dreams: Playing the Seattle Sounders FC Way.”
The fiction part is the tale of a Kenyan named Todo who leaves his native country for Seattle. An excerpt from the book sets the stage for Todo’s move from the poverty of Nairobi to America:
My name is Todo. I’m small for my age, but I can run fast. In my neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya, we played soccer every day after school in an empty lot behind our apartment. We used our shirts to mark the goal, and a ball made of plastic bags wrapped with nylon rope. We wore sneakers, not cleats, and sometimes no shoes at all when we played on grass against a team from a different neighborhood. You can run faster when you play in bare feet.
I organized the games, so I was called the captain. I could win the ball away from anyone and take it from one end of the field to the other for a goal. I even tried a bicycle kick once, but fell flat on my back. When we lost a game, no one got upset. Everyone knew we would be back the next day to play again. The day before my family left for America, my friends gathered in a huddle to say good-bye. “Have you chosen a new captain?” I asked, feeling a soccer ball–sized lump in my throat. “First we have to make a new ball,” they said, handing me the one we had always played with as a gift. “Even if they think you talk funny, they will understand when you speak with your feet.”
Interspersed with the story are bios of Sounders players and “tips” from the players themselves. The tips read a bit like motivational mantras you’d hear in the ballroom of a Holiday Inn, but for the intended audience (kids) they work. “You have to have a competitive drive, and a balance of intelligence and intensity to succeed,” says Patrick Ianni.
Nothing wrong with some positive reinforcement. I’m still not quite sure what “The Sounders Way” is, but it seems to be exactly the kind of thing any kid needs to hear.