Both of my parents coached soccer when I was a kid; mom, the girls 17-20 and dad the guys of the same age. They tried to get me to play when I was in elementary school and I did for a season or two. I was not an athletic kid and Florida’s muggy and buggy climate didn’t draw me. later on in college I started playing with the Latin-American immigrants in the more rural area east of where I lived, in part to practice my Spanish. Somewhere towards the beginning of university, the summer I lived on campus where I met “trenzas”. He was a cool Mexican kid, only in high school, doing a summer program. We organized some games with kids from his dorm, making goals of lamp posts and trash barrels. I also discovered a way to take advantage of that recreation fee they had been charging me for the first two years of classes, join an intermural soccer team. The season had already began but I wandered around hoping to find a team looking for players. Eventually I did find one, which turned out to have a few stars and lacked any sense of organization but at least I got time to play. The following year friends and I organized a team which was equally as disorganized if not worse. There were 21 people on the rooster but we could never get a full team of 8 people for a given game, so we always played a person short. The same group of people organized the following semester, all hoping to show up more frequently. our first match I messed up my knee and as hobbling around for two weeks but never had it checked out. It hurt bad, that pop or click dropped me immediately to the grass and so I stopped playing around 2009.
Recently I started messing around playing soccer with my students at the school where I teach. Though the game is outlawed and soccer balls prohibited the students have devised ways to skirt or just straight stand up to the rules. they play with bottles, cans, oranges, what ever they can find. The trend now is to tightly ball up paper to the size of a grapefruit or a little bigger then wrap it in tape. Some teachers take their Franco-esque role seriously others turn a blind eye and lets the game go on. Among the kids i’m a star, they even chant “Kenny-messi!” and the question of the day has become how many goals I scored. realizing my knee was fine to play I started considering finding a group for a weekend match.
My friend Amanda shot me an invite on fb and this Saturday I went out for 5 on 5 Futsal. like soccer but on basketball court basically and the ball is slightly smaller [size 4] and it doesn’t bounce so much its heavier or harder not sure. The group was a mix of internationals from all over Europe. The games last 15 minutes and everyone has 3 minutes in goal, my least favorite. I have no reflexes for goal and I don’t play in my glasses so that doesn’t help. the organizer also brings jerseys for us to wear and some sports drink and healthy snacks, all for 3 euros a person.
I got to play against my Italian roommate who plays well, felt good to take the ball from him a few times and I also played against Amanda, with whom I banged heads accidentally. in goal I blocked 2 or 3 shots and was scored on 2 or 3 times not a great ratio. I had an assist or two, a header on goal, which was stopped by the keeper and a nice cross with my left foot that surprised me when it was right on target.
The losing team or winning team not sure stayed on the courts to play a second match. by the end of 15 minutes my body was screaming at me to stop. I had a killer cramp in my side but i had a second game to play so no rest. We dent win the 4 team tournament by a long shot. The blue and red teams went into penalties to decide the game and my roommate defended the blue goal well, leading his team to a win.
I am out of shape but I can’t wait til next Saturday.