What Soccer Means To Me

One of my daughter's first soccer games...ever.

One of my daughter's first soccer games...ever.

My father used to tell me about soccer when I was very young.  He would tell me all of these cool tricks he used to do with his friends and how much fun he had.  I, on the other hand, never really got into soccer.  I didn't have the quick skill set with the feet nor did I ever have the 0-60 speed like how soccer players accelerate.  

While my father was never a soccer player, he truly appreciated the sport and always reminded me why soccer is actually called 'futbol'!  I was exposed to soccer during P.E. in junior high but it was a sport that I didn't like too much.  In fact, I wasn't very athletic at all.  Soccer never really caught my eye as a teen and certainly not in my early adult years...that is, until I had my own children.

In my previous career, I worked in a really hostile environment and the only way I could survive was to heavily rely on my co-workers.  Although sometimes my co-workers and I didn't see eye-to-eye on some things, one thing that all of us knew was that we were there to protect one another and help each other out for the greater good.  As a father, I wanted to pass that same mentality to my children.  Trust in others so that everyone can accomplish that common goal.   So the trick here for me was how do you instill those same types of qualities for young children?  Organized sports...and in this case, soccer.

Soccer is one of the mainstream sports for youths.  In fact, statistically, soccer has surged in popularity over the last 25-30 years.  Over 13 million Americans play soccer in the US and it is ranked the third most played team sport in the U.S. When my children became 'of age' to play some type of organized sports, the most obvious choice was soccer.   As I started adopting the 'Soccer Dad' title, I started taking my camera out to photograph my kids playing soccer for the first time.  There's a problem...the kids were moving!!  

You see, before any sports exposure, all I have ever shot were some landscapes, portrait work and weddings.  Never do any of those subjects have erratic movement.  Not only were my children learning how to play soccer, *I* had to learn how to shoot sports...and, most importantly, learn the rules of soccer!!

A seat just for me??  You shouldn't have!

A seat just for me?? You shouldn't have!

I'm now caught in a big learning curve...researching as much as I can about the sport and how to capture sports.  As the kids got older, they got faster...and faster.  That meant that I had to predict what could happen.  This is where the phrase "know your sport" comes in handy.  If I was able to predict what might happen during the game, then it is more than likely that I'll be able to get 'that shot'.  Shooting my kids soccer games proved to be extremely useful as over the years, I was able to shoot at the 2016 MLS All Stars vs. Arsenal.

DJ Jacob Plant plays music for the crowd at the pregame show before the MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal FC matchup at Avaya Stadium.

DJ Jacob Plant plays music for the crowd at the pregame show before the MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal FC matchup at Avaya Stadium.

While considered to be a fun game for the fans to watch, it has grown to be a very serious matchup for soccer fanatics.  The best players in the Major League Soccer will go head-to-head against the international team, Arsenal FC, in the defense of North American style soccer.  The best part?  The matchup was held in my backyard...at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, home to the San Jose Earthquakes.

The organizers of the MLS All Stars vs. Arsenal FC really went all out for this event.  With pregame shows featuring DJ battles and flyovers, this was something that was meant to please the fans.  But most importantly, for the 12 straight year, we were able to see so many great players all on the same pitch.  Something that seemed unlikely became one of the biggest events that has ever happened at Avaya Stadium.

Soccer has really become a major part of my life.  Not only are my children still participating in their own soccer leagues, I always offer to cover the team's games in order to help raise money by selling the photos to the parents and using the proceeds as a fund raiser.  It's often that most of the coaches for these youth leagues are all volunteers.  It's also very often that most of these coaches pay out-of-pocket for a post-season party for these kids.  I feel this is the least I can do to help.  

I'm fairly certain that I'm known to be "THAT DAD" who carries all of his camera gear just to shoot his children's soccer games!  It doesn't bother me...in the end, I really enjoy shooting sports and helping the team raise money.

More likely than not, you will find me on the sidelines of all playing levels when it comes to soccer.  Whether I am covering a game in the youth leagues for fund raising purposes or shooting a professional sports league sending in those pictures on a deadline, you will always know that I will be shooting those photos because....well, it's cause I love it!

MLS All-Stars forward Ignacio Piatti (28) kicks the ball during the MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal FC matchup at Avaya Stadium.

MLS All-Stars forward Ignacio Piatti (28) kicks the ball during the MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal FC matchup at Avaya Stadium.

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