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Participation IS the award.

Participation. . .

I just finished writing a college-talk on the subject.  (Hopefully – some profs will pay me to give it, so I can tackle a bit of ‘on-the-road overhead’ here.)

Participation is a choice.  As we grow older – we create dialogues which prevent us from doing things.  We sometimes choose not to do anything. . .

But, we should learn something from the littlest among us. 

See - there’s a beauty in being a kid - no fears, no emotional noise; it’s just a given that they show up.  Willing. . .eager. . .ready. . .(OK – maybe not always ready.)  The only question is – what do they show up for

In places like inner-city Syracuse – there ain’t a whole lot of options.  I don’t think I really need to elaborate on this.  You can go one way.  Or – you can go another. . .that is – if somebody is willing to provide ‘another’.

Tough call, right?  Especially for a child who is still learning how to make decisions. . . 

Well, Syracuse Silver Knight Foundation makes it a no-brainer – showing up to develop and inspire a group of kids who might otherwise know only one path.  They’ve teamed up with another local org – Hopeprint – on some summertime soccer clinics for underserved locals and resettled refugees.     

It's a bit like herding cats. . .

It's a bit like herding cats. . .

Refugees.

Just imagine for a moment what it would be like to flee a country where you aren’t welcome – only to arrive in another where you don’t belong. . .  

. . .I can’t quite wrap my head around that either. 

But Rick, Allen, Bo, and the team – they’re GREAT people - restoring that sense of inclusion for this group through coaching, friendly competition, and even a few hard kicks to the shins (oh wait – that was me out there getting pummeled on the field). 

Look - I’m a kid who grew up with a ball at my feet, so I get it.  But I don’t think it’s any mystery for anyone – how the things you learn on the field help shape who you become off it.

I broke out my coach’s voice.  I got juked by some 10-year-olds.  I had a blast. 

Though I only spent a quick evening with this crew, and there was more panting than talking – their mission was abundantly clear.    

It was just another reminder for me. . .and a lesson, I hope, for the impressionable – that:

Participation IS the award.