Appreciating the World Cup

Long-live FIFA.

Of course, I’m looking through my own eyes.

                One fellow, on Fox News, was talking about the “problems” with soccer.  Immediately, I knew what was coming. Like many, he didn’t like the low scoring games, and I imagine, other aspects.  I decided this is a good time to address the game from one person’s perspective.

                Like many of my peers, I grew up playing street football and backyard baseball, among all the other adventures and games we played, none the least was my favorite:  tree tag.  And though I had some awareness of soccer, as there never were any real games in our neighborhood, to me it was just another game.  As such, I had no real understanding of the game.

                Fast forward.  I’m a school teacher when a fellow stops by and asks me to coach soccer.  Having absolutely no experience, I decide to coach one year.  And though I watched a few games on television, borrowed a couple books on the subject, asking a couple players for tips, I know I did a horrible job back when.  After the second season, I knew I had to do something different if the teams I picked were going to have a chance.  I couldn’t put another 15 players through these losing seasons anymore.

                So, I read books, studied training methods and game play, went to local games, watched it on television, and listened whenever anyone was discussing soccer.  And my eyes continued to grow larger.  I began to understand more and more the dynamics of the game.  I began to understand the player positions, methods of defense and offense, and how all they all work together.  Thankfully, during the next eight years, our teams improved, twice being in the top two, and I knew I still had much to learn. 

                The reason the fellow on Fox News doesn’t like the game is he didn’t grow up playing soccer.  He didn’t grow up in a city or town where everyone plays soccer.  It’s a mindset.  Soccer has a deep history.  It’s played all over the world.  And it’s one of the few world-wide games anyone can play if they have one ball:  any ball.  And to do well takes a ton of practice and skill.

                The reason players “celebrate” so much when they score one point is exactly because it’s so difficult to score a point.  That’s the game.  11 players try to kick a ball past the defender, and a goalie who can use his hands, while preventing the other team from any points.  And every single player has a position to play within the scheme of the entire team, which never stops, the part I like the best.  Except during penalties and injuries…, and half-time. 

                All eleven players are important.  If even one player isn’t on their game that day, that one player often costs the game.  To those just starting to watch, notice how all the players are constantly moving around.  That’s because, during the game, position is everything.  In other words, if one player is standing in the wrong position, even a few feet off, that’s all a good opponent needs.  And the skills required to play at the World Cup level is daunting.  Few will ever get that far. 

              **Why I like soccer more than football, basketball, and baseball is the non-stop action, the skills levels required for each position, and the incredible dynamics of game-play with well-coached teams.  And when someone does score on a very good team, we know the hard work, and often luck, necessary, but also the preparation and years spent.  Some players were already knocking the soccer ball around before they could walk, and many learned to kick the ball the same year they began walking.  It’s a lifestyle.  It’s a tradition.  And it takes a ton of work to reach the top.

                Any team who wins the FIFA World Cup did so through hard work and determination.  

**One last, but not least item: Talking with a neighbor, we were discussing the fundamentals, individual skills, group training, and strategies. It’s easier to see why Brazille, Portugal, Argentina are so good, along with a couple other teams, but why U.S.A., South Korea, Japan, and even Switzerland never really could be in the last game. The dynamics are just far so much sounder with the top teams.

**I told him my pick to win is Brazille, followed maybe by Portugal or France. To me, Argentina is a wild-card.


4 thoughts on “Appreciating the World Cup

  1. Exactly! I joined a soccer club in college and learned the game from scratch. I never was very good, but I played with zeal and Joy. Years after, I still dream about playing soccer, and usually wake up to a scream and a punch because I kicked my wife.
    The skill level is incredible in these matches, the joy from a score is genuine, and we’ll deserved.
    Oh, I scored one goal in college.
    My team laughingly congratulated me on my “banana kick.”
    I accidently “bent it like Beckham.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had wished to have played while growing up, but soccer wasn’t something “popular” in those days. We all played baseball and soccer. I was fortunate that the fellow thought to include me as a coach, and I am fortunate to have had some good people around that I could learn and coach.
    Congratulations on the goal.


  3. great article, my friend! pray tell, what are the most common points that need to be addressed for countries like the US, Japan, Korea to reach the next level? what are the training needs to advance the level of play for the countries even further down below?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like many a couch potato soccer fan, I was very fortunate that a director thought I would improve, and I did everything to better understand. I will say something you’ve probably already realized. Americans, and I would suggest some of the other countries you’ve indicated, don’t have the history. That’s huge. We might one day win a World Cup, but we would have to bring in coaches that grew up in Spain, Portugal, or England as others, bringing with them players, and they would have to become U.S. citizens. The mindset, belief, historical content, and togetherness is something “they” have from all so many decades. But we do have basketball and football. Take care.


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