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Six months ago he wasn’t happy about football. Year 2 boys suddenly seem to ‘get’ football, picking teams and chasing the ball on a concrete playground, until injuries and arguments see the game banned. Not for long though. Year 2 boys will always find a way. Not so the Bug, who didn’t see the point. Nor could he fathom why his best friends were consumed with the need to play, every breaktime, at the expense of time spent with him. He felt discarded, lonely, on the outside of a game he didn’t understand, or have any inclination to join in with.

It took a couple of months of angst, then suddenly there was a tangible shift. “I think I’m going to have to get into football,”ย he declared, and he did. He made it his mission to join in when he could; he begged for a Match Attax album, and began to fill it; he watched Match of the Day on Sunday mornings, studying the goals and joining in the playground banter on a Monday.

He’s back on the inside now, chatting with an ease that temporarily deserted him, slotting into games and groups previously closed to him, and best mates again with his best mate. Sunday is pocket money day, and where he might previously have chosen sweets, he’s dancing around his Dad waiting to be taken to the newsagents, where he now purchases Match Attax. When he gets home from school he’s straight out into the garden, kicking a ball. He has taught his sister the names, teams, and nationalities of all the premiership players, and he is more likely now to ask to watch the FA cup final than Spongebob.

I’m proud of him. He nearly caved, but he made a bold choice. Aย ‘can’t beat them, so join them’ย choice, and the gamble paid off. Not only does he fit in once again, he has surprised himself by discovering a passion he didn’t expect to have. And he did that all on his own.

He’s even managed to inspire Grandma…

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