Of course, I learned a lot more than 16 things in 2016, but I’ve decided to key in on 16 of the best Free Footie-related lessons this year has given me. I’ve been in this position for a little over 4 months, and believe me when I say it has been one of the biggest, best, and hardest challenges of my life to date.
1. You can not pretend jet lag isn’t happening: I got off the plane late on the 15th and started work on the 16th…not sure I’d recommend it.
2. Admitting you don’t know something is just fine, as long as you are committed to finding the answer.
3. Chaos is only bad if it gets in the way of people having fun.
4. If you want to foster some leadership in your teenaged refs and you tell them to “fly at it”, “do you”, “it’s your call”, or “give it a go”, you need to find a way to be okay with the result.
5. If that teenaged ref makes a great decision or shows some amazing leadership, tell them. Sing it from the rooftops, throw a parade, celebrate.
6. If you’re going to be the primary contact for an agency, make sure you have your voicemail set up (sorry to everyone who tried to reach me by phone before, like, November 30th or something).
7. When I was in school I always found teacher’s ability to forecast issues and suggest solutions before the bad thing even happened to be a little irritating, I am now incredibly thankful for their uncanny gift of foresight.
8. Thank all City of Edmonton Recreation employees as often and enthusiastically as you possibly can, because they make the Free Footie indoor programme’s world go ‘round (seriously, all you beauties at Commonwealth, thank you!)
9. Moreover, thank all the people who make Free Footie’s world go ‘round on a regular basis, because, seriously, they rule.
10. Yelling and getting stress-y doesn’t actually make nets inflate any faster.
11. Nobody but me cares about how straight the lines are dividing the soccer pitches. But also, Omayma and Isabella are way better at this task that I ever will be.
12. I have learned that one or both of my backseats and/or my trunk will forever be filled with Free Footie-related gear – whether it be socks, shin guards, medals, trophies, nets, or jerseys. My next car will have to have more trunk space.
13. I am still terrible at filling out time sheets.
14. To receive help you need to ask for it.
15. Drawing inspiration from a hyped-up, passionate, enthusiastic 8-year-old is perfectly acceptable.
16. No matter how insane, skin-of-your-teeth, or force-of-will something feels, it’s always worth it for these kiddos to get to play.
So that’s that. It’s been a whirlwind but I can’t imagine a job I’d rather be doing. I hope you all have a safe and restful holiday season and a very happy new year. I say, bring on 2017 – we’ve lots more soccer to play.