If there is one thing that I have learned after being here for two months it is that Americans (or better yet, I) are not meant to play soccer. For the past two weeks the teachers have been playing in an organized soccer game with a bunch of local Chinese. Last week I couldn’t play because I had to teach a class, but this week I was free so I was able to join them and play in their game. On our field were two Brits, one Italian, a Chinese EF staff member with a bunch of his friends, and one American, me. The last time I played organized soccer at the JCC on a little league soccer team and Eitan “Bobo” Bornstein’s (a friend from JDS) father yelled at me for kicking Eitan in the shins. He scared me shitless and I have never played organized soccer since.
Being the boisterous American that I am, I of course lied about my soccer skills. My British friends were heckling me to play and I was going to show them a thing or two. After one trip up and down the soccer field and I was out breath. The other team was kicking and passing the ball like it was no big thing, but I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off. The Italian on my team (Jack) would be yelling at me and the other people on my team to different things. I had no clue what he was telling me to do. A ball would be coming right at me and I would totally whiff.
I had three great opportunities to score. The first I was off sides but the ball went in the goal. The second time I got set up for a perfect header but instead of using the front of my head I used the top of it and bounced it over the top of the goal. And the third time I had an opportunity for a break away, but since I don’t know how to run at full speed and still control the ball, I tapped the ball right into the goalie’s hands.
At one point I got the ball and started running down the field with it and all of a sudden a defender comes out of nowhere and stands right in my path. Now, not knowing how to play soccer I realize that I don’t know how to take the ball and get around the defender. So I decided to just go straight. Not the greatest decision. I ended up colliding with him and fell to the ground. I scratched my back pretty badly and somehow hurt my finger as well. I think I might have broken it.
What’s funny is that on one hand I have a black nail because I closed it in a car door before I left for China and on the opposite hand my finger is swollen because of soccer.
In the end my team got creamed 8-4. We only scored four goals because we stole some players from the other team in the second half. The day after the game I was super sore. My legs were killing me, my groin and my hamstrings were tight and sore but it was worth it. Hopefully I will do better next time out.