Me and my friends waiting for the game to start. I am number 9.

I play soccer with my school team, that is made up of some 5th graders, 4th graders, and 3rd graders. We practice Mondays and Thursdays after school.  There is about 36 kids on my team. My coach is named Mr. Hough. He is also a 4th grade teacher.

Me, Sam, Nikos, and Loet, waiting between games.

Soccer in Rome is much different than soccer in the States. For example, people play much more rough, and we do not wear shin guards. On my first day of school, the first person to be nice to me was named Charlie (who is from Australia). He told me to never play soccer at recess because kids have broken bones on the soccer pitch. At the beginning of school, I was a bit nervous because kids played much rougher than at home and also all the kids speak only Italian when playing soccer.

Me, Sam, and Nikos.

But I really wanted to play, so after the first week or two, I just started playing. It was weird to see how many shots that seemed impossible the kids tried to make. It turns out that I did get hurt a few times playing soccer at recess, but it was still really fun. I ended up making friends with a lot of kids that I really like now because of playing soccer. Plus I learned how to say a lot of things in Italian (that I can’t write about here because they are inappropriate). A couple of times a month, our coach comes on the pitch to play with us at recess.

Our team jerseys have long sleeves, maybe because the Romans always think it’s cold even when it’s hot.

In Madison, everyone gets to play in games and the coaches give each kid an equal amount of time on the field, whether you are a better or worse player. But they do not do that in Italy. Here, the coach invites only a few kids on the team to actually play in a tournament. The coach only picks the not bad players to play in games, and before the game you are told if you are a substitute player or starting.

My team.

At the beginning of the year, I didn’t ever think about really going to play in a tournament because there are too many good players in Italy. But I still really liked going to the practices. I was SUPER happy when Mr. Hough invited me to play in a tournament. But it was cancelled due to snow. Then I got invited to be in another tournament and that is what I am going to talk about here. I have never played on a school team before.

Right after I scored my goal, with Nikos and Andrew.

Two things surprised me. First, I got to play on the 5th grade team. And second, I scored a goal. I never thought that I would score a goal in a tournament in Italy. I feel like I will always remember this; it was one of the specialist moments of my life.

Only three other 4th graders got onto the 5th grade team. All of them are really good friends of mine. They are Nikos, Andrew, and Victor. My friend Nikos assisted my goal. The best players on my team were Hans and Fillipo and Jacopo. Originally, the coach told me that I was going to the tournament as a sub. But when the game started I was sent in as l’attaccante which means striker. I think in Madison we would call it center forward. That is my favorite position to play.

Waiting to hear the places.

Our team made it through the quarter-finals, semi-finals and made it all the way to the finals. But then we lost in the finals. We got second place in the all-city international schools tournament and we got a trophy. Fillipo got to take the trophy home, because he is the team captain.

Getting our trophy, which was filled with candy.

One of the greatest things was celebrating the victories after our games. We all ran around the pitch shouting in victory and patting each other on the backs and stuff like that.

In the end, it was one of the greatest days of my year in Rome.

– Eli

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