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saved by soccer

When my super-active, jumpy son Sean was four years old, his kindergarten teacher strongly suggested that I have him evaluated for ADHD.

As we both suspected, Sean failed most of the assignments in the test. He wasn’t able to build the required structures out of the provided blocks, arrange the given cards in their correct order, or recite the days of the week.

Finally, the doctor packed up the cards and blocks and told Sean that he could draw while he was talking to his mommy. He nodded to me grimly and sat back at his computer.

He put his hands on the keyboard and was about to begin writing his assessment, when he stopped, turned back to Sean, and asked him if there was anything he particularly loved.

The doctor and I both looked at Sean expectantly, but Sean lowered his head and kept quiet.

I was afraid that he was not going to respond.

But, at last, he did.

“Soccer,” he mumbled quietly under his breath.

“Soccer?” The doctor smiled kindly. “I love soccer, too. Which club are you rooting for?”

Sean looked at me uncertainly and said:

“FC Barcelona.”

“FC Barcelona? What a coincidence! That is my favorite team, too!” exclaimed the doctor. And, for the first time during the session, the doctor seemed genuinely interested.

“Can you tell the names of the Barcelona team players?” the doctor persisted.

To his great delight and amusement, Sean easily recited the first, middle, and last names of each player, as well as which country they were from, and their position on the field.

When he was done with the first team players, he went on to recite the substitutes.

He could also rattle off Leo Messi’s hometown, tell the doctor which famous Argentinian player had just signed a deal with Manchester United, and the name of the new star of Paris St Germain.

I was taken aback.

So was the doctor.

Due to that conversation, he did not diagnose Sean with ADHD.

Instead, we managed to get away with the recommendation to go in for a follow-up test in a year’s time.

I knew then that soccer was going to be my savior.

After that appointment.

Sean’s interest in soccer only grew, especially in SC Barcelona. And their superstar forward, Leo Messi. He followed the La Liga and European leagues closely.

Sean watching game

He made us buy him school supplies and clothes with FC logos and all kinds of souvenirs. He covered his room with Messi posters, and he started seriously training in a local soccer club.

I, on the other hand, took advantage of his soccer passion to coax him into doing everything. From his everyday chores to his homework.

Eventually, I decided to fictionalize our day-to-day experiences into a series of children’s books, allowing Sean to share his passion with kids who are crazy about soccer and to inform yet others about this exciting sport.

About Sean’s soccer books.

The books are written in every day, easy-to-read, realistic language, are beautifully illustrated by the Italian artist Elettra Cudignotto, and best suited for ages five to nine.

The first book, Sean Wants To Be Messi, follows Sean throughout the days as he fears going on the field at his first soccer training, struggles with math homework, deals with minor bullying at school, and contends with his parents’ lectures.

As a very active, creative, mischievous boy, Sean finds ingenious ways to relate both school and life lessons to the soccer field, which helps him to focus and achieve his goals in different areas of his life.

His journey, however, is a rocky one, and his parents find both frustration and humor in Sean’s antics. I think every soccer parent can relate to these experiences.

As the author, I believe it can be said that as much as the book is about childhood, it is also about parenthood.

The second book in the series.

For the research of the second book, Sean Goes to Barcelona, Sean and I flew to Barcelona, Spain. It was a dream come true for Sean, an unforgettable trip, and the mother-son experience of a lifetime.

How exciting it was to watch a soccer game at Camp Nou! What a thrill to see Leo Messi and all the other stars of Barcelona FC play on the field right in front of us!

Sean insisted on trying to get Messi’s autograph, too, so we did a few crazy things which I will not disclose here.

Suffice it to say, we were chasing Messi all over Catalonia, and we got away with it!

Sean Goes to Barcelona is the fictionalized account of our adventures in Spain and our crazy quest for a long-desired autograph!

The third book in the series

The third book in the series, still in the writing process, is about Sean’s adventures in an SC Barcelona soccer summer camp in London.

Raising kids in today’s world can be a challenge.

I’m glad I have soccer as my aid as I strive to grow my son into a responsible, committed, compassionate, and most of all, happy adult.

PS: Today, Sean is in third grade, and he hasn’t been sent for an ADHD evaluation since!

This article is a guest post by Tanya Preminger.

Tanya strongly believes in the power of literature as a means to growth, education, and the cultivation of curious, compassionate, happy children.

Her children’s books sold more than 6,000 copies in the US, UK, Japan and around the world. Tanya was born in Russia, spent years in the US, and currently resides in Israel with her partner and their son.

You can find her soccer books at