An actual, real, totally legitimate professional Belgian soccer club has signed a 20-month-old boy named Bryce Brites to its team. No, they didn't sign a 20-year-old. You actually read that right -- they signed a toddler! According to the FC Racing Boxberg's club secretary, Bryce has incredible control of the ball for someone his age and kicks in a way that surpasses the skills of a 5-year-old child. I'll admit: the tot definitely has some fancy foot moves, as we can see from video shot of him on the field. But I'm also comparing him to other kids his age, most of whom would probably lose interest in the ball after five minutes and sit down to play with the grass.
Weirdly, Bryce isn't even the youngest child to be signed by a pro team. Baerke van der Meij, who was 18 months old at the time he got the nod from a Dutch soccer association, gets that honor. This all begs the question: even if we spot talent in our very young children, is it healthy to push them so soon?
I think it's difficult to spot a child's true talent when he or she is a toddler. We may see promise -- a beautiful voice or an above-average ability to recall musical notes on the piano -- but I'm not sure labeling an 18-month-old a "child prodigy" is either necessary or helpful.
We all know that, at that age, a child doesn't have enough of a command over his or her vocabulary to express to us what he's really feeling and thinking. There's something odd to me about signing a contract with a major sports franchise in your child's name and committing him to a childhood of rigorous practices and sacrifice before he even gets to vote on which hobbies he feels he wants to passionately pursue.
I'm going to guess the two boys who were signed love being out on the field and don't have to be pushed into kicking a soccer ball around. But what if that changes when they turn 3? Will their parents -- and those who invested time in their talent -- be accepting of the fact that young children can be pretty darn fickle?
I would fear I'd be limiting my daughter to walking down one straight path without allowing her to explore all of the other talents and interests she may possess. When my husband and I noticed our 2-year-old girl could do perfect splits and had more rhythm than any other child we'd seen, I was obviously pretty proud, but I also knew I was pretty delusional. Lots of toddlers can do splits. Perhaps she does have a great amount of untapped talent that will eventually surface -- yep, she is in dance school, though it was she who expressed the desire to "dance ballet" like the kids on Sesame Street -- or maybe dance will just be a hobby she drops like a bad habit in a few years.
Either way, it feels too soon to limit my child to a serious pursuit when there are so many she has yet to discover.
Here's video of the cute little guy doing his thing:
Would you let your toddler go "pro" if he or she showed promise in a sport?
Image via YouTube