More Grassroots Football
Saturday was one of the best days I can remember. I've put a lot of work into Jacob's team. I don't have any official status but the Coach has got me assisting him, which seems to work very well. I've known most of the kids for a long time and I'm very happy to say they respect me, so my main role there seems to be getting them to listen to the coach, who is I think quite brilliant, but (Japanese) doesn't speak English expertly and is very quiet. Meanwhile I also assist the Manager, Jim, who hasn't been around much for various insurmountable reasons so yesterday I was the acting Game Manager anyway. Yesterday, being the first game, there was a lot to do, and it was sort of my baby. That's enough introduction to my unique role with these kids.
They are the El Salvador U12s. They won 5:2. That would have made my week as is, but Jacob scored the first goal and it was a cracker. He had to race the goalie of the opposition (Hawks) for a long ball which was heading for the right corner of the box (Jacob was playing right-mid). The goalie hesitated in his run which was a fatal error, but still nearly made it. Jacob slid in for the ball and touched it once. It rolled past the goalie, and kept rolling - it was not a heavy kick - I swear it took about five minutes for the ball to roll to the goal mouth. It hit a bump and looked like it would miss. It hit another bump and found its way back on course... just. Hit the far post, and crossed the magic line.
In indoor soccer over the summer Jacob has managed to score (I think) four goals, one of which was his first ever (he has played two seasons before this one). Two of these were in one game which was pretty cool. Then in three friendlies (against U13 teams) leading up to this season he scored twice, once each in two of the games. But this one was his first outdoor goal in official competition. And it was the first goal of the season. And it was a cracker. Can you tell? I was a proud puppy.
In the second half Jacob scored another goal, off a beautiful ball from his mate Stavros, who was also on the Indoor team, The West End Terrorists. Does being a soccer Dad get better than this? Does football get better than this? I can't think so.
Before I move on, an important note is that the team seemed much more skilled and tight than last season, and quite clearly this was coming largely from the six players that played Indoor over the summer. A lot of the kids on the field hadn't played much soccer for six months. That showed. Summer Indoor is recomended I reckon.
Today I played my second real competition game, on the left wing of the 4-5-1 formation I described in my last post. The game time had been changed at the last minute and we ended up lucky to have 11 players, so we had no subs. Especially as the game was played at 12.00 midday, it was torture every time the other team shouted, "If you're tired, sub off." We held a nil all draw 'till half time, then, largely through exhaustion (our average age is about 38) we proceeded to lose 4:nil.
For myself, I didn't embarass myself too much, and got some nice balls away. For the team, despite the comprehensive loss, we felt our strategy was as good as we could get, so we're going to stick with it. The brief from our captain at the beginning of the game was to hold the ball up and concentrate on short passes in our triangles, even if that (apparently) meant scoring less. For the season our medium term strategy is to get good at this style of play, and we actually feel it had started to gell very well in the first half, before we virtually stopped running. So we're sticking with the game plan.
It was the first time I have played for 90 minutes, and I relate to what Wayne said in a comment about lungs trying to work their way out of your mouth. And yes, it was exhilerating anyway. Once again I loved every bloody minute.
After this a few of us had some beers and in a moment of madness decided to go to the afternoon kick-about as well. Now I'm really stuffed, but I kicked the winning goal ("It's getting dark; last goal wins") so I'm happy enough.
Great weekend. I love football.