Lingokids: Growin’ Up - Professions & Jobs for Kids

How to Become a Soccer Player

October 21, 2022 Host: Emily Calandrelli. Guest: CJ Sapong. Story by Sabrina Walasek. Sound Design: Juan Delgado. Season 1 Episode 8
Lingokids: Growin’ Up - Professions & Jobs for Kids
How to Become a Soccer Player
Show Notes Transcript

Do you dream of being a sports coach or soccer player? Our guest on this episode scores for Nashville, SC, and his name is CJ. And if you think it's not ok to cry when your team loses or wins, CJ is here to say he has done it many times! Join us as our host Emily Calandrelli chats with CJ to learn how to manage these intense emotions and build your leg speed!
Discover fun activities and songs that will teach your child all about collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication in the Lingokids app! 💙

Children Chorus: Lingokids.

Girl: When I grow up, I want to be a sports coach.

Emily Calandrelli: What does being a coach mean to you?

Boy: Helping athletes work as a team.

Girl: Blowing a whistle really loud and calling the shots.

Emily Calandrelli: I think that's the referee.


Girl: When I grow up.

Musician: Want to be a pilot with a uniform white, always flying high up in the sky?

Boy: When I grow up.

Musician: Want to be a firefighter putting out flames, or maybe a police officer keeping people safe? It's so fun to learn what you can be.

Band Chorus: Growing Up. Growing Up.

Girl: When I grow up.

Musician: Want to be an artist that paints portraits? Want to be a scientist that does experiments? Oh, so many people you will meet.

Band Chorus: Growing Up. Growing Up.

Boy 2: Growing Up.

Musician: Growing Up.

Band Chorus: Growing Up. Growing Up.

Emily Calandrelli: Hi. Welcome to Growing Up, with Emily, a Lingokids podcast helping amazing kids to grow up and be even more amazing. Emily, it's me, as a kid, I was always asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I wanted to be so many things. Does that sound familiar? Then I am glad you were listening because you are going to find out what it takes to be anything you want. Are you ready to make coaching your superpower?

Band Chorus: Growing Up.

Girl: Yes.

Boy: Yes.

Band Chorus: Growing Up.

Musician: Growing Up.

Children Chorus: Lingokids.

Emily Calandrelli: Last episode we met Alexia, a superstar teacher from Australia. Today, we're in the stands of a soccer game, called a football match outside of North America. Two school teams are going head to head and foot to foot to score a goal before halftime. Does the pressure of winning and losing give you a thrill? If you've dreamed of being a coach, you won't want to miss this episode. Today, we're going to meet a special coach. "A coach for the day." He's actually a left striker for Nashville SC, a major league soccer team. He loves to support community events and has offered to help coach today.

Girl: Cool. A professional soccer player. I only saw them on TV.

Emily Calandrelli: Who knows what a left striker does?

Girl: I'm guessing he's on the left side of the field facing the goal.

Emily Calandrelli: Yes.

Boy: And striker means he scores.

Emily Calandrelli: You got it. He has to be super fast, have fantastic footwork, and precise ball handling.

Girl: Wow.

Boy: Wow.

Band Chorus: Growing Up. Growing Up.

Girl: The coaches keep pointing to players and making weird signals with their hands.

Emily Calandrelli: They're communicating. Unlike other ball sports, there are no timeouts in soccer, so coaches have to direct players from the sideline.

Boy: What do the signals mean?

Emily Calandrelli: Not sure. Coaches create signals only their players know to secretly communicate where to move or to defend.

Boy: Cool. Soccer has its own sign language.

Girl: Why do we call it soccer anyways? Other countries call it football.

Emily Calandrelli: I'm glad you asked. Let's kick around a little history. In 1863, clubs in England formed The Football Association to set the official rules of the sport. Another popular game, rugby, was also called football, so the word "Association" helps avoid confusion. It got shortened to a soc. A player was either called a soccer or a rugger, depending on the game they played.

Girl: That is so funny.

Emily Calandrelli: When the sport was punted over to North America, the word football was already being used for yet another sport, so they went with soccer.

Boy: All of my friends play soccer.

Girl: Most of mine do too.

Emily Calandrelli: That's what's great about the sport. Mostly everyone can play. It's a sport that really brings the whole world together. Have you ever heard of the World Cup?

Boy and Girl: Of course.

Emily Calandrelli: More people around the world watch the World Cup than any other event on TV. Even more than the Olympics.

Boy: I bet I know why.

Emily Calandrelli: Really? Why?

Boy: Because everyone loves to yell, "Goal."

Emily Calandrelli: Shhh. Remember, you're at a soccer game.

Boy: Oops. [laughs] I'd hate to be kicked out.

Girl: It is so exciting. I feel jittery.

Boy: Me too. How do the coaches stay so calm?

Emily Calandrelli: They stay strong for their players. That means calm and confident. I've got the perfect cure for jitters. A joke. Which famous soccer player throws his stuff on the floor?

Boy: I don't know. Who?


Emily Calandrelli: Messi. [laughs]

Girl: You scored with that one. Hey, the kids are lined up like a train for the corner kick.

Boy: I hope they score.

Emily Calandrelli: It's all about teamwork. Coaches help these young players with the basics, how to dribble, pass, receive a pass, shoot, and goal-keep, but the real skill is working together. Oh, here we go.

Soccer crowd: Awww.

Girl: Woohoo.

Boy: Incredible.


Boy: The teams are running off the field for the halftime break. Could we meet the coach while the players grab some water?

Emily Calandrelli: Yes, if we hurry. Are you ready to meet a real soccer player and coach for the day?

Boy: Oh yes. What's his name?

Girl: I heard a player yell it. It's Coach CJ. Let's go.


Emily Calandrelli: Hi there, Coach CJ. I'm with Lingokids. We want to find out what it takes to be a coach. Can we ask some questions?

Coach CJ: Yes, for sure.

Emily Calandrelli: Thanks. First, what does CJ stand for?

Coach CJ: This is one that gets people a little annoyed because it actually stands for nothing. My full name is Charles. My father's name is not Charles. At some point in my childhood, my mother decided to just start calling me CJ. Playing youth soccer, she just started yelling, "CJ, CJ," on the sidelines, and all the other parents picked up. Next thing you know, I'm in school and, "Yes, just call me CJ." Ever since then it's been CJ. [chuckles]

Emily Calandrelli: Great. CJ, what are three things all coaches must do to have a winning team?

Coach CJ: Patience is number one. You have to be able to understand that things aren't always going to go the way that you draw them up to be. Creativity. That's what I really love about soccer is, it allows an opportunity for personality to be shown through the sport. It's cool to see the differences in individual players. So we have patience, creativity, and knowledge. You have to have knowledge of the game. You got to have knowledge of patterns of play. The more knowledge you can gain, that I think the better opportunity you have to be successful.

Emily Calandrelli: Really interesting. Maybe you can give us some tips at the end on how our listeners can start learning these skills. We have also received some excellent questions from our Lingokids listeners.


Girl: CJ, have you played other sports as a kid?

Coach CJ: I played a lot of sports. I was a kid that loved to be outside. I played baseball, played basketball, played soccer. With my family being from Ghana, it was the sport that they connected with the most. It was a sport that I was allowed to stay up late on weekdays to watch with them. It was a sport I woke up early on weekends to watch with them. I definitely grew through that connection with my family and chose soccer as my one and only sport. That was probably around ninth grade in high school. Ever since then, it's been all soccer.

Boy: Did your family help you to become a professional soccer player?

Coach CJ: My father is pretty much the inspiration for the love I have for the game. My family definitely supported me. Even my younger brother, I look at it and I think it could have been pretty tough for him to always have to get up early to ride with me to my tournaments and have to keep showing that support. To this day, he's been my number-one fan.

Girl: CJ, sometimes kids cry when they lose a game. Have you ever cried?

Coach CJ: Oh, for sure. As a grown man, I've cried after losing games. I've also cried after winning games. That's a beautiful thing about the sport. You have an opportunity to let who you are be released, and with that, there's going to be emotion. I always say, showing of emotion just shows that you care.

Boy: I can't stand if our school team loses. It makes me sad and angry.

Coach CJ: Just like life, there is moments where it seems like you failed. It's okay to let that emotion come out. The beauty of the game and life is, you're going to get another opportunity. To really move forward, you just take that failure in that moment and try to learn from it. Go back and study the things that you could have done better, and you live to play another game.

Girl: "You live to play another game." I shall write it down.

Boy: CJ, do you teach your kids to play soccer too?

Coach CJ: Yes. My stepson is five. That's literally the age I was at when I first started playing. He has fun kicking the ball around with other kids of players on the team. My daughter, she's two. She's not quite old enough yet to start playing in organized soccer, but she loves kicking the soccer ball. She every so often is watching the games and she's yelling out, "Goal." So that'll be interesting and fun to see how they develop and grow into the game.

Girl: What is the best part of being a soccer player?

Coach CJ: Oh, so many things, man. Lately, this is what's kept me in the game for 12 years now, the biggest thing is I get an opportunity to master my craft, and that's where a nice sliver of that joy that I had when I was younger continues to stay. I really enjoy the sport to the point where every day I want to get better. Not to mention the amazing opportunities I've had to go to different places in this country, in the world, play against players that I used to play with on video games.

Boy: Oh, that would be a dream to me.

Emily Calandrelli: CJ, I hear you like to give back to the community. Tell us a little bit about that.

Coach CJ: When I played in Philly, I recognized the serious problem in the inner cities where kids in underserved communities did not have the access to clean, organic produce. It was all corner stores, and Cheetos, and soda for lunch. With my nonprofit, Sacred Seeds, which is based off of sustainable agriculture in urban areas, what our plan is, is to build sacred spaces within these inner cities that grow this produce that is healing on the inside for sure, but also healing through the senses, whether it's the smell, just the visual aspect of it, and look to provide therapeutic programming through that.

Emily Calandrelli: Clearly, you are an all-star on and off the field. Thanks for sharing with us.


Emily Calandrelli: CJ, what can kids do now, while they're still growing up, to develop the skills of a coach?

Coach CJ: One of the easiest things I would say is, just begin to visualize what it is you actually want. I think kids, youth have an amazing imagination. Every so often, it's fun to play. I know you're doing school and there are a lot of things that take up your day, but five to 10 minutes a day of just closing your eyes, and if you're saying, "Hey, I want to be a coach." "Okay." Close your eyes and think about what that life would be. Think about being a coach. Think about coaching players and making them the best that they possibly could be. Think about how happy that would make them. Think about how happy it would make their families. Really start to see those things that you want for yourself.

Boy: Players run so fast. What's the secret to building speed?

Coach CJ: There's many different ways that you can build speed. What I did when I was younger, and I swear by this, is you find a hill, you sprint as fast as you can up the hill, and you run very fast down the hill, but learn to try to control that speed too. What that does is, one, you're making your muscles stronger by trying to go up to an incline, but also trying to decelerate as you're going down.

Boy: This is a really great tip, CJ. I'm going to find that hill and try. Thank you.

[whistle blowing]

Coach CJ: Okay. I've got to run.

Emily Calandrelli, Boy, and Girl Chorus: Bye. Good luck.

Emily Calandrelli: We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Growing Up podcast. Even if you never plan to be a coach, it's great to play a sport. Are you on a team? What do you learn from your coach? Tune in next time, when we meet a real gymnast.

Boy: To live a full interactive learning adventure, check out our Lingokids app with tons of games and activities for endless fun.

Musician: It's so fun to learn what you can be.

Band Chorus: Growing Up. Growing Up.

Musician: So come and join us.

Band Chorus: Growing Up.

Musician: Come, everyone. So we can learn while having lots of fun. Because it's so fun to learn what you can be. Yes, it's so fun to learn what you can be.

Band Chorus: Growing Up. Growing Up.

Musician: Growing Up.

Children Chorus: Lingokids.

[00:15:42] [END OF AUDIO]