Soccer at 37 is not daunting in and of itself, but soccer after not playing any organized games in 15 years … well, that’s a bit foreboding. I feel like I should be on the roster for Olde FC (Fart Club).
A new friend who happens to coach Gabriel’s team invited me to join his company’s 7 vs. 7 team at Silverbacks Park on Mondays. I’ve missed a game or two, but last night was my first. All things considered, I survived. I didn’t do too well. I’m out of shape still and could really feel it.
Regardless of the outcome (we won 6-4, I believe), I had a blast. Just being out there again. Kicking the ball. Running into open space. Looking for options as the ball approaches. These are the things I love when it comes to soccer. It’s not the technique, not the winning or losing, but rather the love of the sport. I’ve written about this before, too.
I stayed on the field for about 45 minutes of the hour-long game. Notice I didn’t say “I was running for 45 minutes.” But that’s my goal: keep moving when I’m on the pitch, without the magnetic pull of poor fitness holding me back.
It’s akin to what Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger said in an article on small-sided games (like the teams Gabriel and I play on now):
“What attracts every player of every level is the pleasure of playing the game….the roots of why they played in the first place. One day, as a kid, you played with your friends, you kicked a ball about and, wow, you enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to play again.”
And so I, too, can’t wait to play again. I guess that desire has never really faded. It’s just taken 15 years for me to decide to do it.