Aside from a brief stint playing soccer on a coed 4th grade team, I know little to nothing about the sport. I recall something about a right forward and a sweeper and the goalie wearing a brightly colored shirt, but beyond those few basic details, I’m what you would call a novice. And I’m fine with that. I have no illusions about my current abilities, or lack thereof.
Which, naturally, is why Jax and I decided to join an indoor soccer league. Always eager to try something new, no doubt. I am unquestionably one of our least impressive players (my team is stacked with talent), but that does not stifle my enthusiasm. I love it. I may spend the majority of my time running around without a clear understanding of my position’s role, but that doesn’t stop me from attempting with gusto. And every now and then, the stars align and I make a great defensive block or some unexpected steal, and I revel in that moment of glory and the encouraging words from my teammates. There may not be a lot of evident strategy there, but I’m not afraid to go at it with everything I’ve got. Even if that means bodychecking guys double my size and landing in a discombobulated heap on the ground.
And that’s not to say I’m not attempting to hone my skills. I’m eager to improve, and I’m learning new takeaways every time I don my shin guards. The wall is your friend – use it to your advantage. Cut the opposing player off from the ball. Don’t assume a timeout has been called. Tie your shoes tight enough to where you don’t run straight out of them. Take as many shots as possible. Don’t let them get between you and the goal. Bring a water bottle or you’ll surely risk dehydration. Don’t make the mistake of touching the ball with your hands or your goalie will be forced to endure a straight-on power kick from a member of the opposing team. And so on and so forth.
One thing I love about soccer is the team aspect. In both kickball and softball, both of which I played last year, the emphasis falls on the performance of the individual player. Not exactly a reassuring notion to those of us who didn’t grow up on sports. But in soccer, sweet soccer, it’s all the team, all the time. We pass the ball up and down the field, we defend each other, and we’ve got each other’s backs. We sub players in and out, laughingly rehash our minutes on the field, and loudly cheer on our teammates from the box. And let’s be honest, being on an allstar team such as mine doesn’t conceal my blunders per say, but it sure makes them a little easier to recover from.
We’ve been scrimmaging and practicing for about a month now, and tonight marks our first official game. So here’s to teamwork, happy kicking, and a hopeful victory!