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Save the beehive!

I can’t seem to get the smile off my face.

It’s a pleasantly warm afternoon, and the bees are buzzing. Not your garden variety bee. I’m talking kinder-soccer bees!

If you have ever witnessed a kinder-soccer match, you know what I mean. I watch as the beehive relentlessly swarms after the elusive round “nectar,” trying to kick it into the nest, er, net.

It’s been a while since I have been out to watch the start of the youth soccer cycle, for my own daughter is now playing competitively at the U18/19 level, and it is a much different environment as players vie for state cups and championships.

It is all coming back to me now.

Sport at its finest. Pure joy, and the raw energy of a kinetic beehive of 6-year-olds just chasing a ball and occasionally a wayward butterfly.

This latest rendition of the Bad News Bees consists of, “Get up, Sebastian!” “Wrong way, Rodrigo!” “Way to go, George!” and “Catch him, Kevin!” (Yes, all with exclamation points.)

At least that is what their supporters kept yelling out, so I assume that was their names.

The hive swarms and buzzes, taking mighty leg swings that sometimes result in spectacular spinning ballet spirals onto the ball or turf. Suddenly, a rogue bee will break loose with the ball and to the joy of a 20-by-30 grid of giddy onlookers, the chase is on!

Sebastian lies upon the grass, arms dramatically raised toward the heavens. “Get up, Sebastian!”

"I can’t!” he replies in desperate tones. Rodrigo stares, waiting for coaching instruction, Kevin runs alongside his opponent — as somewhat of a police escort — and George is bee-lining straight toward mom looking for some Gatorade.

A goal is scored and all cheer — even Kevin — who has the best view of the opposition’s goal. He even rekicks it in the goal, to make sure it is a goal, and raises his arms triumphantly to the cheers of the crowd, and the dismay of his 17-year-old coach.

They don’t keep score in kinder soccer, but they know, especially if they have an older sibling there to remind them, and yes, the parents know too.

I can’t stop laughing.

Maybe it is the entire scene of kids engaged in pure unadulterated play, or maybe it is the cocked-head look on my daughter’s face as she takes her first coaching foray into the world of ”What goes around, comes around.” Nonetheless, she assures her Soccerballer/Seahawks/Packers team that it is OK that the other team scored. Besides, now we get to kick off!

Bottom line. At the end of the day, it is really about the joy of play, and the joy of watching play. The victory tunnel formed for both teams, the Rice Krispie Treats and Gatorade handed out at the end of the match and, yes, the success of “Wrong-Way Rodrigo!” doing a 180 and finding the back of his own net.

I intend to remind myself of this the next time I watch a U18/19 game. What fun!

— A.J. Klott lives in Jacksonville.