Tag Archive: soccer


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).

My fitness level, as expressed in cleats

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.”

G as in Grasshopper

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.

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Long time no post. I’ll chalk that up to Busy Season at my 9 to 6 (at times quite longer), Mon-Fri (at times Sat and/or Sun).

Still in the throes of BS, I offer some writing I did in response to a running group questionnaire. Answers are truthful and in color.

Hey, Nit,

Thanks for spearheading this. See below, yo.

D

RUNNERS, please answer the following questions:

  1. Would you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate, or expert level? Beginner with the caveat that I played soccer for 15 years … 15 years ago. So some simple math would reduce me to zilch.
  2. How many times do your currently run per week? Including the weekends? Zero.
  3. What is your average per minute mile on your exercise runs? Pro’ly 10 at this point, inclusive of stopping for breath, donuts, etc.
  4. What are your goals for joining the run group? Cardio, tone legs, something fun and healthy to do with my wife, and make my running shoes stop whining about their “lack of fulfillment.”
  5. Are you training for any upcoming races? Not that I know of, but you never know when gas prices will force me to seek alternative transportation, or when  mugger will provide incentive.
  6. What is/are the best day(s) for you to run with EY Atlanta Run/Walk Group? Weekends, which coincidentally is the best time for Gramma to watch our son while we go running.
  7. Do you prefer to run AM or PM? Provide times (i.e. 6pm, 6:30pm, etc.) Mornings. Do it. Be done with it.

Twenty-two cleated siblings

The little guy a few seasons ago as a Grasshopper

“Do you have a little brother over there?” asked the young coach, walking to retrieve the cones on my end of the soccer field.

To tell the truth, I just came out here for some practice.

“No…to tell the truth, I just came out here for some practice,” I replied glancing more than casually in the direction he had motioned, toward the youth league match taking place on the adjoining field.

The exchange was simple, but sparked thoughts of games gone by, practices where I felt I could run forever, as long as my water cooler awaited me at the end.  At sixteen years of age I made the decision to cease pursuing club-level soccer.  Close to a decade later, with only a handful of scrimmages to fill those years, there is still magic in this simple game.  It can not be explained, but anyone, who has given his or her heart to a sport, any sport, knows exactly how I feel. It’s so much more than a simple love of the game, deeper than the enjoyment of a pastime.  There is a brotherhood that exists here on these fields, on any field, from the pristine pitch of a German Stadium to a dirt street of Venezuela.

During my first year of college, I took refuge in the gym with my well-worn soccer ball, figuring that the cinder block walls would be sufficient teammates.  One evening, I met a fellow soccer player.  He simply said something like, “Here you go,” and indicated that he was ready for a pass.  Unquestioning, I offered a simple, in-step pass, received by a simple, one-touch stop that, like the delivery, spoke of not a few years of training and hard work.  It was in that one interaction that a bond was formed.

The connection is not solely between those of us who have played with and against one another.  It binds us no matter our nationality, our abilities, our age.  It is the passion, the intensity, and the appreciation of this sport that brings us together.  It manifests when you witness a perfectly executed play even without a goal to show for it and you still let the words, “How magnificent!” escape your lips.  More than a game, beyond a sport, you recognize it as an art.

In the present day, my physical condition is not what it was, and my skills have lost the edge that kept at tight reign on the defensive half of more than one premier or classic level team.  The boys nearby show promise, putting their hearts into the game despite the rain puddles and uneven field.  I watch and clap and shout encouraging words to players on both sides.

In *his* footsteps

In my mind’s eye, the coach presents me once more with the question, “Do you have a little brother over there?”

As the game ends and I make my way off the field, I reply aloud, “Yeah, coach.  Twenty-two of ‘em.”

The principle of step by step

Derek,

First things first, congratulations on actually going for a jog Saturday after … well, since we can’t remember when.*

Being that we carried you literally and figuratively through more than a decade of intensive soccer and three decades of post-crawling mobility, it was nice to get some exercise for once.  Are we being sarcastic?  Perhaps, but we also write you this note to encourage you.

You know all too well that it’s been a while since you’ve been what we’d consider in shape.  But, by going for that jog — in the cold rain, just up the street and back, you’ve made the first move toward getting fit.  And it’s a long path to travel, one that can only be done through steady, constant effort.

As you travel this road, focus on the daily decision to run, not worrying about the future or resting upon the past.   As life has taught you, there’s progress to be made in taking it one day at a time.  From increasing foreign language fluency to decreasing thigh circumference, it works.  You know that.

When you complained to your wife a few weeks ago about not feeling in shape, she gave you her advice.  We’re glad to see you’re taking it.  Maybe that’s why she was clapping when you came in from your jog.

Taking things one day at a time is also in line with your 2010 goal of being reliable.  What you gain physically and mentally through running can only develop you as a reliable individual.

The slight numbness in the toes; the rubbery, taffy feeling in your quads; the ache in your shins the next day — that’s all part of it.  Enjoy it.  Embrace it.  It’s the birthcry of your progress.

So, keep it up.

Love,
Your Legs

* Races with Gabriel from the mailbox to the backdoor of your home notwithstanding

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