I love this photo.
It pretty much sums up this year for LJ: new friends, the beach and soccer.
Recently, the kid had her last soccer experience of our world trip. She attended a camp with the Valley District Soccer Association. We've spent the last month with my parents in rural Nova Scotia. There aren't many kids around so the camp not only let her play her favourite sport, but also provided some much-needed kid time.
If you’ve followed our stories, you’ll know that soccer ended up playing a big part in our year-long, around the world adventure.
LJ started playing soccer when she was three and played with the Ottawa Internationals Soccer Club for three years before we left Canada. She was heartbroken to have to leave her team mid season.
She loves/lives for soccer and we worried that she wouldn’t get much chance to play while we travelled.
Boy were we wrong!
She went through three pairs of cleats, her socks were sewed up more than once, the ball was repaired with liquid latex, and she very much added to her collection of jerseys.
LJ's soccer ball was kicked around in 18 of the 20 countries we visited. She played with local teams, academies and camps in Scotland, Belgium, Portugal, Tanzania, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada; and she played more pick up games than I can count in parks and on beaches. She visited the home of FC Barcelona, watched three professional matches, played in two tournaments, and can now do 40 juggles without letting the ball touch the ground.
Best of all, soccer allowed her to connect with and learn from so many wonderful cultures, places and people.
Her soccer experiences this year exceeded our expectations and allowed our trip to take on an amazing and very special dimension that we didn't really plan or expect. Without soccer, without her having an easy way to make friends and do what she loves, I’m not so sure this trip would have gone as well as it did.
In just two hours, we’ll be home and the kid has already decided what she’ll do first.
She’ll go to soccer practice then eat ice cream.
She’ll be back on her home turf with her old friends. But now, she’ll be playing as a true Ottawa international.