El Jogo Bonito

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In high school, for three months a year, life pretty much revolved around soccer. With my dad as my coach, not only did I go to practice, I also spent every car ride home, dinner and evening discussing the sport with him. I loved it.

I gave up soccer in college not because I particularly wanted to but because I was being realistic. UCLA has one of the best soccer programs in the country, which means that the people who weren’t quite good enough to make the varsity team are still really ridiculously good. As a result, the club team, on which I could have played, was full of these people who were far better than I was, and I decided that rather than sit on a bench for four years, I’d stick with lacrosse, my other high school sport, and actually get some game time. I don’t regret that decision for a minute since my experiences on the lacrosse team were some of the best moments of my college career.
Blue suit and grey suit ready to take on rivals Cal Poly. Yes, our sweatsuits had official names.
Ahh college and the binge drinking…of water. I am wearing that same shirt right now
That said, I still missed soccer. Once I moved to Chile, I started missing both sports – running may have taken their place somewhat, but it just isn’t as fun as goofing off with your friends and getting a workout in at the same time. I’d half-heartedly toyed with the idea of joining a soccer team here (no lacrosse in Chile, sadly), but I never actually made the effort to make it work.
Playing assistant coach because I kind of sort of got a red card in the previous game. Oops.
Luckily for me, a coworker did. My company organized a tournament that pitted the male employees against each other, and on the day of the final they invited women to make teams and have a game. There were only 10 of us, but we had a great time, and one of the girls in particular was talking about the idea of forming a company team. A lot of companies in Chile, including mine, have men’s teams that they support financially with stuff like uniforms and league fees, so the idea of asking for equal support for women wasn’t totally out there. Although with only 10 women interested – 8 of whom had never played before – it seemed like it might be a challenge.
Again, luckily for me, enough buzz got out about this idea that we now have a group of 20 or so. We practice twice a week on our own with a coach – which costs us about US$10 each, a pretty reasonable amount – and as of last week we’re going to an organized soccer school on Saturdays on the company’s dime. After two months of soccer school, if we’ve proven that we’re serious, the company will pay for uniforms, and we’ll join a league. I’m excited! I will be the first to say that right now we’re pretty terrible. I mean practice number 1 involved learning how to pass, and even though my previous soccer days are 8 years behind me, I am by far the most experienced player. That said, I don’t mind starting from scratch if people are putting in the work to improve, and so far they are. Plus just being part of a team again makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, and I can’t wait to get to know the rest of the girls better.
Even though I made the decision to join the team all the way back in 2010, I’m counting it as part of my “do”-ing for 2011. Much as I enjoy soccer, I paused before committing because having something to do til almost 9 twice a week in addition to a 2 hour appointment on Saturday mornings is quite a bit. But I figured I could always quit if I didn’t like it, and so far I’m liking it, so I think I made the right decision. Plus, we’re talking about pink uniforms. Totally worth the investment of time if I get to dress in head-to-toe fuchsia.
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