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Kicking a ball for sport dates all the way back to Ancient China and is played today in every village, town, city, state and province around the globe. Commonly called football, fotbol, fuβball, or fútbol in most nations, it is distinctly referred to as calico, sakkā or soccer in many others.  Regardless of its name, the object of the game has remained the same: to shoot the ball into the goal!  Ideally, a mesh network is made as the target but as I’ve seen on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and Durban, South Africa, two sneakers can conveniently be used as goal posts to achieve the same effect.
I personally believe Max caught onto the concept of the game probably before he could run or even walk---perhaps memorizing plays while doing “tummy time” in his Infantino play gym during infancy. While I would love to state that I was taking a page out of a FIFA handbook on how to raise a prodigy by early exposure to televised sport, it is actually my student loan payments that have kept us in such a close quartered living space.  
Once decorated with sharp edged furniture and at least sentimentally valuable décor, since Max was born our living room has gradually become a common area for little adult and mainly child play.  Three corners reserved exclusively for Max’s arts & crafts table, fortress tent, and mini gym equipment, leave the remaining one for our large flat screen television that is commonly colored with pixels of green field being run by footballers blocking, striking and volleying.
An avid sports enthusiast, my husband follows the matches of not only Barclay’s Premier League, Bundesliga, Champions League, La Liga and Serbian SuperLiga, but also CONMEBOL and more increasingly those of Major League Soccer.  Fudbal, as my husband calls the popular sport in Serbian, is regularly and routinely previewed in our home regardless of time or season.  Max must surely think he is up for recruitment as he has learned to imitate not only the strikes attempted by the footballers but regardless of his success at securing the ball in his Fisher Price “Grow to Pro Super Sounds Soccer” net, he willingly performs the celebratory “slides” that follow and even scans the imaginary stadium that is our living room for our praise as he says, “Bravoooooo!” and executes self-congratulatory applause.
Like this endeavor to celebrate his motor skill development, Max first practiced this routine for our recognition when he would attempt to master a new phonetic technique.  “Puma pate,” he would say pointing to and picking up his sneakers or “Dai Adidas jackna,” as he reached on his tippy toes for his sports fleece that was hanging in the closet.  Our smiles, claps and cheer gave him confidence and now I can see that they have also fostered independence.  These short statements have evolved into the Alphabet Song that he just yesterday completed in English followed by his own shouts of approval.  All these months of repetitively pointing to objects have encouraged Max to achieve the goal of proper identification and he has reminded us that just as they do in the Major Leagues of any sport and in every language, a triumphant win should be met with spirited enthusiasm.