Saturday, September 23, 2006

El Salvador Soccer Club

Well we tried to see the Newcastle vs Mariners game at the Pineapple Hotel, but it was packed and we were overwhelmed by Rugby League on the screens. The food was ok though. "The food was beautiful; it was so nice," is Jacob's retort.

Jacob was also on the money with the score (well, at least the draw part) so maybe his food review is better too.

But today was a big soccer day for us both, and in a way which for me is closer to the real heart of the game than the A-League or even the World Cup. It was our local club's Fun Day and Trophy Presentation, which took us from 11.00am through to 6.00pm.

The El Salvador Club has been growing almost too rapidly in the past few years. It only has one main field and two mini fields, but the club house is great, small but licensed, with a big screen and a pool table. There were eight under 7 teams this year, so that they were obliged to set up an intra-club under 7s competition. It's a bit out of control.

So there were hundreds of people there today, all ages. Parents vs kids games all day, pinyatas and other games, a jumping castle, a dead pig over a fire, free sausages and drinks for all the players and on it went. Apart from meals and drinks it was all free. The club is doing well, and although the day was long, it was joy and community.

One of the keys it seems to the success is that the parents are catered for directly. Friday night training is not a drop-off, but a chance to sit and have a drink with the other parents, with salsa music and very reasonably priced food.

I'm bloody sore after the game between us parents of the under 11s and our kids. We showed no mercy and thrashed them 5:0. Ha! "5 nil, it was not, it was 3 nil," comes from over my shoulder. Anyway, it was fun, and by the end we were all completely stuffed.

And to top it off, I am the proud parent of one of the "most improved player" trophy getters. He deserves it too.

Anyway, the point of all this? This is football. Where a community is not alienated but laughing, talking about life and love, living together in the sun on the grass. This is much more important than Australia winning international games, but it must also be said that it is greatly facilitated by Australia winning international games. I only expect that many clubs in Australia are having successes and growth, and the Socceroos are partly to blame.

And the growth and success of these local clubs can return the favour. It is this grass roots community joy in football that will, in the long term, deliver Australia the World Cup.

Salud, and good night.

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