Learning Through ‘The Beautiful Game’

Last night Gabriel couldn’t sleep, I heard him shuffling about upstairs and went to see him. He’d already decided he wanted to come downstairs, so I agreed but explained that I was watching football and he would have to watch it with me.

As the game progressed, Gabriel was half watching it & half watching cartoons on the iPad. At the moment we are learning colours, so I asked Gabriel what colours the football teams were wearing. He looked a bit confused. So I went over to the TV and started pointing at the players and showing him that there was a red team & a white team.

It then suddenly occurred to me that Gabriel doesn’t fully understand football. By this I don’t mean offsides or 4-4-2 but the absolute fundamentals of the game or sport in general.

He loves having races and over the last few weeks the concept of the ‘winner’ has crept into our races. He also knows that in football you shout ‘goal’ and knows when it’s a goal (but by the reaction of the players and crowd) But what he didn’t realise was that there are two teams, in two different colours trying to score goals by kicking it between the sticks. It isn’t a series of races between individuals trying to run fast with a ball.

I pointed out that every player had writing on his shirt with a number. So we know who he is, he has a retro gridiron style t-shirt which he always refers too as ‘football shirt’. All of this was quite a lot to take in but I think he understood some of it!

I’m sharing this because never before had it occurred to me that he didn’t understand what was going on. Sport and especially football is so much a part of life that even the least interested person has a grasp of the fundamentals; teams, points scored, winners and losers. It does make me wonder what else I’ve made assumptions about him understanding.

In just over a month the World Cup starts. The coverage is going to be everywhere and it will take over everything for a month. I’d expect Gabriel to pick up on this and be curious. Some of the games are on early enough for him to be awake, so we can watch together. It’s a great chance for him to learn about numbers (the low scoring nature if football is good for this) and colours in a different way. People from all over the world will be on TV daily so he’ll see the diversity of people. We can talk about where people are from and whether it’s hot or sunny there. I think he’ll like the ideas of teams of ‘friends’ playing together and helping each other as we have talked a lot about friends lately.

None of this is groundbreaking and they are basic things we talk about every day and we see in his books but it’s another opportunity to talk about it all with a context. All of this will be helped if he starts to understand the game and can enjoy it, and of course it helps my chances of watch more games if it’s educational for the children. Another reason to look forward to June!





  1. says

    You are so right about how often we just take things for granted, as if it’s transferred into the mind with breastmilk. I have these eureka moments every once in a while too. Mine are mostly related to language and how things are expressed in different languages, how things aren’t as obvious as they seem on face value.

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