One big happy soccer family

  • Amy Daybert<br>Enterprise editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 1:09pm

When the FC Shoreline International soccer team and their families organize a potluck, the food spread is representative of more than 10 different countries.

Corn bread and pita bread, sushi and salmon, and chicken and lamb curry are coupled with chicken fried steaks, teriyaki kabobs, homemade pizza and spatzel. Before appetites are satisfied, ice cream, brownies and cookies are also consumed.

The food assortment isn’t surprising to teammates, and leftovers are scarce.

The coach of the select soccer team, Emerson “Skip” Robbins, said his team of 15- and 16-year-olds is accepting of one another’s cultural backgrounds. During a potluck at his home on Sept. 30, family members and teammates wrote their name and country of origin on name tags before sitting down to eat.

“The great thing about sports is that it can unite people,” said Robbins, who has coached soccer for 24 years. “Almost every tournament we play in, spectators will look curiously at our team and wonder where we are from.”

His 17-member team is representative of countries from across the world, including England, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Germany, Holland, Japan, Lebanon, Nepal and the United States. Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh religions are also well represented.

“There’s always a good story associated with each of the players,” Robbins said. For example, he said, two brothers on his team spent most of their lives in a refugee camp in Kenya. Another player from Nepal has a father who has led seven expeditions up Mount Everest.

For several families associated with FC Shoreline International, soccer is a family affair.

Usha Singh’s son, Aaron, has played soccer since he was in elementary school. Now he plays on the team while his father, Gary, coaches.

“My husband played soccer,” Usha, who is from Fiji, said. “He got my son into it.”

“The only way we quit soccer is when we go six feet under,” Gary added.

Teammates and their families consider themselves one family. Players attend school together, practice together, sleep over at one another’s homes and introduce each other to their extended family.

“They do everything together,” Amie Jallow, from Gambia, said about her son, Essa, and his teammates. “They love each other so much. It’s a real family now.”

Robbins’ son, Tyler, said he’s been invited to events by his teammates and their families.

“I’ve always been interested in a lot of different cultures,” he said.

Robbins said his team uses different languages — Dutch, East Indian, Fijian and others — to communicate while on the soccer field.

“They’ll talk to each other in different languages and then the other team doesn’t have a clue,” he said, adding that he tries to teach his team about more than just the rules of the game.

He expects members of his team to be respectful. And although he likes to see his team perform well and improve, he said he wants to make sure his team is having fun.

“You do what you can and hopefully somewhere along the line it makes a difference,” he said.

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