Why I love the World Cup

Swangard Stadium, Burnaby. Current home of Vancouver's Professional Soccer Team, the Vancouver Whitecaps.

One of the pretensions of the soccer playing world is that we play the “beautiful game”. This is often wrongly attributed to Pele. While sometimes it is hard to imagine what Pele had in mind when we watch the game played by some modern teams (the Greek and Swiss national teams come to mind) it nevertheless seems true to me. Call me shallow, but every year in the fall when I see the fields being lined and see players going out to play, I am engulfed with a feeling that is comparable to my emotions when listening to great music or admiring a masterful work of art.

 

Another thing that I love about soccer is that it's universal. As an eastern European pickup player remarked to me one Sunday morning as he joined a game with a bunch of players he’d never met before in his life: “Anywhere in the world, you can go out at 10AM on a Sunday morning, and find a soccer game to play in”.

Another great thing about soccer is that you can play for years. In Vancouver, there are thriving over-35, over 40, over-50 and over-55 leagues. In a park near my home, during the summer, a group of  40-50 year old players (mostly men, mostly over 40), get together and play a “pick up” 3 game tournament every Sunday.

 

So, when the World Cup rolls around, one of the things I love to see is that people around me take an interest in the game; talk about the game, and best of all take up the game, or play the game just for the joy of it.

When I was walking home with my daughter from after school care today, I saw a teenage girl standing on the sidewalk juggling a soccer ball with considerable skill. Later in the day, two of my children’s friends, one of whom is 16 years old and the other, 11 years old (both Spain supporters, whose great grandfather played for Athletico Madrid), came over at 8:30 p.m. to play soccer with my kids.

My first instinct was to say that it was too late for my ten year old daugher to go out. Then I thought, what the heck.   They promised to be back at 9 p.m. Of course, they didn’t get back until after it had started to rain at 9:20. My son, Sammy, proudly announced that my daughter had taken the ball off of 15 year old P. My daughter overheated with exertion warmed my heart with the words  “I love soccer.”

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