Tonight was the first practice for the Falcons, my daughter’s U-10 soccer/football/whatever team. Ten players of varying ability and personality type. We have our talented but mercurial striker, great scavenger of other team’s mistakes, long blond hair and quick feet but always losing a shoe or getting mysteriously injured, rather like oh say Totti or Van Nistelrooy. Our other striker is slow but steady, no lateral ability at all but once she gets a head of steam worked up it’s probably going to at least trouble the keeper, probably maybe a Hasselbaink. We have our short but plucky midfielder who made the leap last year into really quite useful, Shaun Wright-Phillips all the way. Our main goalkeeper is tiny but fearless, constantly plucking the ball off someone’s toe when she has no earthly purpose doing so: Barthez without the gesturing, which you could argue is not really Barthez at all. The two new kids are fast-but-clumsy-yet (J.DeFoe?) and with-confidence-will-be-great (L.King?). Our up defensewoman is dogged and dramatic, Makelele but maybe without the touch. And my daughter, who hated being keeper (we call it ‘goalie’) last year because she’d play half the game being bored but under pressure and then spend at least half the rest of the game on the bench, is now (with the departure of last year’s superstar defender, a really talented kid with a huge foot and an instinct for the angle, for Mt. Horeb, which is kind of like Real Madrid except without the money glamour tradition or ambition) the tall enforcer at back, John Terry except with hair more like new lad Spector at more like Melchiot-length. (There, of course, the analogies break down. At least two players are micro-kickers without feel for the game except maybe once a game when one or the other will make an amazing run. Don’t know who they might represent yet.)

The first year this team existed, we lost every game except one where we tied. Last year, we won every game except for a loss and two ties. This year, we start our season on one week’s notice after only one practice. My daughter’s new ball, purchased for 10 bucks at Target, is bright metallic purple. The favorite game at practice is to drench the other girls with water during the break; second favorite is to scrimmage against coaches and parents. This Saturday, it’s my turn to bring snack because we’re first alphabetically on the list. I’m thinking granola bars and some kind of juice pouches. I wish they’d let me be a coach but they won’t.

God bless the Falcons.