Saturday, June 16, 2007

Why We Love This Game

I was standing in front of a wall of Soccer gears, in the basement floor of Paragon, looking all confused.

I need to pick out something called Shin Proectors. I need them. I know how it feels to be kicked on Shin, in the sense that we girls think the best way to punish a dick boyfriend is to kick right on his shin, hard, with pointy shoes.

Overwhelmed with the choices in size, color and complexity of funcitons, I turned to professional help.

"So what would be most suitable for me?" I asked one passing sales man.

"It depends on your position." He said "what position do you play?"

Eyebrows raised by themselves, I did not expect this surprising question.

"T......" I struggled to hold the remaining two characters rolling off my tongue, "No positions. I am just playing", meaning in the beginner of beginner's sense.

Oh. He nodded and picked up the pair of red shin protectors in small size and handed it to me. "This will suit you just fine."

I love them. I also got the turf shoes, classic design in white, a size 5 soccer ball, and 2 tops with matching pants.

Confucious said: you must dress properly for what you do. He is never wrong, and I am a follower when it comes to dressing properly for the occasion.

First day in soccer class at the Lower East Side park, I was late, although dressing very properly in a white Adidas top and short pants of the light blue color of Argentina national team.

There are five of us who signed up together to spend some quality soccer time. Robin, Dave and Natalie are already practicing when I arrived. Adam was also late, so we naturally formed a practicing pair.

"During this practice", the coach said, "you need to call out the other one's name, expect his move and then pass the ball. You need to call out his or her name loud".

Ok, so we started.
"Adam!", I passed the ball, he ran up slowly to get it.

"Vivian" he passed the ball back to me, gingerly (I always want to use this word!).

Adam is shy, and very geeky, very nice. He would not raise his voice. So every time, he would mumble my name, looked at me, smile a little, and then pass the ball, all in a bit of slow motion.

But very soon, with the running up and down, it became, in my case, heavy breathing following calling out his names, just listening for the voice over, it is like we were in the mid of having sex. Or, from the other perspective, when you are having sex and calling out each other's names during, it is not very unlike what happens when you practice passing the soccer ball face to face.

I began to laugh to myself with this thought. I made an effort to call out his name in the short and bossy style and pass the ball in the most professional way, to aovid the akwardness we both felt, or I felt. It is mostly amusing to me.

The point is, if we were attracted to each other, this could be a very good exercise, where the tension and fun amounts to the extent that you can cut them through with a knife.

Adam is funny, but he is not attractive in any way to me. So it is simply amusing.

We then played square pass in threes. I joined two other guys and Adam went off to join two girls. I was running arond like a lab mouse and sweating like I never had before, like in real hot and dirty love making.

I may be very horny, or maybe it is what soccer makes you feel--amused and thrilled.

Last five mintues, we were divided into two teams to play. I was in the white team for the color of my top. I was very devoted and was seriously going after the ball, calling out "here" and "here", with hand clapping, body moving to draw attention. The color team scored first. We fell behind. Robin had been making a real impact.

About 2 minutes into the game, she made a pass from the right to the center, and a guy in our team got the ball and made a straight goal into the small net. We high-fived among us. I felt the rapture of the goal, of working together, of running and running against the time, of building up the hope through the havey panting, sweating, hurting in the chest to that final moment of glory.

And you got there. Time stands still, while you savoring that moment of ecastacy.

I suddenly had the epiphany of why this game made the whole world go crazy, with its challenge of endurance, strength, anticipation of other's people's move and your own reaching for the ultimate goal, it is, in its most essential spirit and reward, is like having the best sex in the world.

Of course I am just being funny.

Fact is, I felt going back to when I was 12, at middle school. I wished I played some soccer then. I was not good at any sports. I always felt out of the place in PE class. I was slow in running, clumsy and scared in gymnastic, terrible in sitting up. I had the biggest crush on the boy who played great basket ball, so I spent most of time sitting at the side corner of the palyground whatch him, moving my eyes away whenever he happened to look at me.

Soccer was not a girl's game in China at that time. Actually playing anything within a team was very selective due to the limited resources at the school. Everything was so competitive that you can not expect to play just for fun. I did not own proper pair of shoes for sporting.

I did played some Ping Pong in the school team briefly, since the coach thought I have potential. But it had to stop when my mother worried it took so much time from my study.

I had always craved and envied those who can play good sports. They were cooler in my little mind. And I was just a bookworm.

But amazingly, now I am no longer a school girl, but I play tennis, soccer, enjoy biking, kick boxing, running, walking long distance in this great city. I owned different outfits and shoes for different sports, my outfits are not only functional but also fashion conscious.

Here and now, there is no one who can pick on you and say, no, you are not good enough for this game or this team. You play for you want to, you play for you can. You are not being judged, you just expect to have fun and to rediscover yourself.

I may have blown this out of portion, but playing soccer at this time and stage of my life, is more liberating, than when I was 12.

It is about potentials and possibilities and never too late to try different things.

For only when you come from a time of a country when you expect to never change who you are and what you can be, you truly feel how great it is to be faced with options and freedom to be who you really want to be, and do just what you want to do, with no consequences.

I tried to convince my niece that she should participate more activities at shcool, playing a sport, any sport. She plays piano, she writes stories so well, but she does not like sports. And she loves Japanese pop stars. She spent lots of her non-study team catch up on those stars every word, while she can go run, play soccer or volleyball or jump a robe.
Maybe in my home country everything is still competitive and my niece is not unlike the me when I was 12. I would like to tell her "Go breathing some fresh air and play some soccer." But again, I don't think I am in the position to tell her want to do.

She will find her way, as I had found mine.

For now, I am playing soccer. And soccer players are the hotest and fittest among all athletes, beyond any argument. That is another reason, to be in close proximity to a soccer field, you never know what is in stock for you.

That is the beauty of life, is it not?

I just hope no more name calling while ball passing. Adam should have found a new partener by now anyway, since I missed last soccer class due to my walk, but that would be just fine with me.


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