A few weeks ago at church, a couple asked Robert and I to sign up for a co-ed intramural soccer team. Of course, Robert was excited about it from the start. I was a little more hesitant, since I have never really played soccer before (maybe one pick-up game when I was like 6, and a few futsal games in young women). The couple assured me that this was just a for fun team, and the wife said that she didn't play soccer either, and that it would be very low-key. Plus they need all the girls they can get so they can play (there has to be a certain amount of girls and boys). With this promise in mind, I signed up for the team, and Robert paid his fees. I even bought my very own pair of Wal Mart plastic shin guards ($4.99--awesome quality).
Tuesday night was our first game. I was a wee bit nervous, so I had Robert go over the positions and rules of soccer. It seemed pretty straightforward--guard your spot/get the ball into the goal. We trotted over to the field, me with my cute exercise shorts, tennis shoes, and plastic Wal Mart shin guards. I was expecting to see a few other girls of this sort along with their husbands as well.
We got to the field (me a little nervous about playing, and not knowing anyone) and went to meet the team. Our team circle was made up of a group of athletic looking boys (typical) and three other girls besides me. I noticed that each girl was pretty sporty looking (you know the look--cool, casual, hair-in-a-pile-sweats-wearing-girl) and then I noticed that each girl had her own cleats and awesome looking shin guards, as well as long socks.
Um...excuse me? Having you own pair of cleats and awesome shin guards and long socks means that you have DEFINITELY played soccer before, and for more than intramurals. I was the only one without cleats. The ONLY one. My jitters about the game were turning into shakes.
When they asked what position I played, I told the "captains" that I don't play soccer. They put me as a forward. "Make goals!" They said. Great. And of course I had to play, and play the whole game, because I was a direly needed girl.
OK, I was getting pretty scared at this point, hearing the team talk about strategies, etc. Just as we were about to start onto the field, I spotted the wife who had told me originally that this is a "low-key" team and that she hadn't played either. She was wrapped up in a blanket sitting on the side-lines--in jeans.
"Hey there! Why aren't you out here?" I called to her (I might have been glowering). "I am here to watch! I never said I played soccer! I am a way better cheerleader, trust me--you don't want me out there!" Well believe me, my cheer leading skills outweigh my soccer skills, too. This is when you shake it off, grin, and run onto the field. My grin was just a little forced.
I'm glad there were a few other forwards so that I could watch them to see where exactly to place myself. It didn't take long for the other team to realize that the girl without the cleats was where you want to aim the ball to your team mates. I don't know why it took my team a little longer to realize that I needed a back-up. On the other side of the field, the opposing team would send hard kicks and try tricky foot-work patterns to try to get through our team to the other side. Only about half the time were they successful at that. When they came through my side of the field, they could gently and evenly kick it to one another, while I scrambled about like a little chicken trying to stop and redirect the gently moving ball. I looked a little idiotic. And I definitely felt that way.
By half time I was a bit discouraged (that might be an understatement). My team was very nice to me, patting and cheering on, but really--cleatless wasn't doing so great. I heard words flying around like "middle division." Middle Division?!??! EXCUSE ME?! We got about a two second rest till we were on the field again.
There must have been like a million subs in and out the second half. Seriously, every other whistle was a sub. It was kind of fun to see who would be in and out of the game--of course all of the girls watch this part from the field. There are not enough girls for us to sub in and out.
Somewhere in the second half of the game, one of our team mates was in the corner ready to kick the ball in. He was petering a little, trying to decide how and where to hit the ball (I was the most open--forward, remember? but obviously not the best choice). The goalie from the other team yelled out, "Hey save it for the Relief Society! Let's go!"
Have you had to be on the field the whole game? No. Can you get the ball past our awesome girl named Jewels who stops and gets the ball every time right where she should? I don't think so. Do you go visit girls every week, plus do your home teaching? I doubt it. No one makes fun of the Relief Society. And seriously, how weird to do so on a soccer field, anyway?
My war blood was pumping then. After that comment I managed to stop two passes and even distract a player so he couldn't make a pass. Not much, but hey every little bit counts, even if I did look like a chicken.
The game ended in a tie--0-0. One downside about soccer, there is a huge lack of points. I'm just glad the other team wasn't able to get a goal past us. And now I am gearing up for our next few games. If I mysteriously disappear for a few hours or maybe a few days, you'll know why ;-) At least I have one good thing going for me: I am a girl, and we need girls to play. And I do have my own shin guards, even if they are the cheapo plastic kind. :-)