20140531-225321-82401626.jpgToday we began the long process of going home. Next week will be the last week of school, as well as final music recitals, practices, and school parties. Today was the first ‘last’ soccer game (for Simon). It was the final of the small “G. Modestini” memorial tournament, after his team advanced from the semifinal yesterday. Afterwards, coaches and parents began to ask when we are returning to America.

It wasn’t the most elegant game, but the Don Bosco giovanissimi got it done, prevailing 1-0 vs. a determined Ventinella squad. The lone goal was in the first half, from Jordy, off a through-ball from Simon that the defender could not quite handle. Simon played well; the coach said he was ‘migliore in campo‘ (‘man of the match’) afterwards. Don Bosco’s keeper for this match, Christian, also played one of his best games, tipping one free kick over the bar, and a defender, Tommaso, saved the result when he headed away a shot against the post and out of play to keep it from going in at the start of the second half, when Ventinella began to press hard and Don Bosco tried to protect their narrow lead.

Here are the game highlights:

Unlike yesterday, there was no dramatic comeback, no penalty shoot-out. Don Bosco, though not without some drama, simply finished the game off.

La coppa

La coppa

There was great excitement at the end—the first ever trophy for coach Titoli, and for most of the players, in all likelihood. Micah was thrilled that his big brother had won “la coppa,” and he danced and jumped along with them when they lifted it upwards (see the end of the video). Songs continued in the locker room, and the team then brought the cup out to the field again, starting to walk around the edge as if they were circumscribing a sacred space (campo as temple). Which, in a way, it is.

Here’s the tournament report by the coach, for both kock-out matches. At the end, Mister Titoli simply and elegantly says:

Come già detto, non ha vinto la squadra più forte; ha vinto piuttosto la squadra che più aveva voglia di riscatto (in semifinale confesso infatti che a una manciata di minuti dal termine stavo raccogliendo i palloni preparandomi al saluto finale); ha vinto la squadra che ci ha creduto fino alla fine, andando oltre ogni aspettativa… ha vinto il calcio, questa magnifica metafora della vita, che regala continuamente emozioni ed opportunità a chi sa coglierle.

È stato un anno un pò difficile, ma che si è concluso con un sorriso e con una coppa alzata con gioia verso il cielo. Grazie.

“As I’ve already said, the strongest team did not win; rather, the team won that had the greater will for redemption (in the semifinal, I admit in fact that in the minutes at the end I was collecting the balls and getting myself ready for the final handshakes). The team won that believed right until the end, going further than expected… It was calcio that won, this magnificent metaphor for life, that ever makes a gift of emotions, and also opportunity to those who know how to seize it.

“And so went a year  that was a bit difficult, but that finished with a smile and with a cup raised with joy towards the heavens. Thank you.”

Thank you, Mister Titoli.