We had L&G get involved in sports as soon as possible when we arrived. We felt is was important for them to continue their usual and familiar activities and we knew getting involved would help with the difficult transition. It helps to feel part of something, and have a team that needs you. The transition to moving to a new home, whether near or far, can be challenging and everyone moves through the journey at a different pace. For us, jumping right in, exploring our new country and getting busy has helped.
G got involved with the local Blackhawks basketball club during the summer. As you can imagine, basketball is not the most popular sport in England, but there is a national network of clubs and Grant found several other American boys on the team. They invited him to play on their “national U14 team.” This simply means they have games and tournaments farther around and not just in our county.
He did not start football/soccer until the first week in September just to discover that both basketball and soccer have the same practice and game schedule. Many youth sports practice on Saturday and play on Sunday. In addition to killing your weekend, it forces the kids to choose one sport and for Grant that will be football/soccer.
L was able to jump right on to a girls football/soccer team. An American colleague of Lance’s has a daughter is just a few months younger and they had an opening on their team. The girls are nice, strong football players, and were welcoming to the new American girl. They have already won their first two friendlies/practice games.
She was able to attended just one Blackhawks girls U16 practice before they stopped for their summer break. Most activities shut down for the month of August as many British families go away on holiday/vacation. Basketball was a tougher sell for Lauren. Girls in England who might be interested in basketball don’t usually start playing until they are at least 13. There is a big difference in the skill level of an American girl who started playing in 1st grade. We attended another practice in early September and decided we might need to expand the search. So last week she practiced with the Reading Rockets basketball club which is about 45 minutes away from us. They have a professional men’s and women’s team and an extensive training/youth program for boys and girls. When we walked in and actually saw girls in basketball shoes (the British call them boots) and shorts we knew we were getting closer. They could dribble and shoot. Her coach is a skilled 20-something female player from Hungary. L smiled throughout the practice, but we are not yet sure if she will be able to juggle both teams.
So what does all this mean? Well, it means we are back to having our weekend consumed by sports and also spending a bit more time in the car discovering every park and gym in the region. Sounds like home!