For the last couple of weeks Oliver has been going to football training for 3-5 year olds. (That's soccer by the way.) It's a great bit of exercise for him and I get to take part with him too.
It is predictably chaotic, given that there are now about 20 kids (all boys interestingly) charging around with footballs in a sports hall. But the half hour session is a nice mixture of fun games that get the kids to warm up and then practice their football skills before finishing with a game. There is also some etiquette, shaking hands with the opposition at the end of games and taking turns in "training". (So far the odd competitive Dad has been the low performer in this area!)
The "game" at the end is in fact never more than two-versus-two and many of the boys, including Oliver, either haven't really grasped or just aren't bothered with the concept of goals, goalposts or pretty much anything other than chasing the ball and kicking it. And who can blame them! That is after all the purest pleasure to be had in the game.
This week Oliver particularly enjoyed trapping the ball by putting his foot on top of it. His other favourite activity was placing the ball and taking an enormous run-up to kick it. (Not a prescribed exercise, just his favourite thing to do in the warm-up.) In my boyhood I seem to recall Peter Lorimer, no 7 for the then mighty Leeds United, had the hardest shot in football. Oliver took about the same amount of run-up.
At the end of every week, the leader picks out two boys as Player of the Week and awards them a little trophy (on loan to the winner for the week). This week, for his endeavours and most of all for "always playing with a smile on his face", one of the winners was Oliver. (I am absolutely certain it had nothing to do with persuading me to cough up the twenty-odd quid for the rest of the sessions. Heaven forbid.)
The whole experience is still a little daunting to Oliver who takes part enthusiastically but likes the fact I am close at hand. So I was delighted and proud to see him standing up and walking forward with a smile to accept his trophy and hold it high to receive everyone's cheers. I even got him to recreate it for posterity when we got home.