Two weekends ago I did something I’ve never done before. Something I was terrified to try. Something that instilled utter panic inside of me.
That’s right. I played soccer.
I have never played soccer before, except for in PE at school (where I usually just hung out on the edge of the field and did nothing) and once at a soccer camp I went to when I was about seven, where I learned I HATED soccer.
So I’m not really sure how I got wrangled into participating in the Nagano JET Soccer (football) Tournament. I know the main reason was because my friend Faye asked me to join and I wanted to hang out with her and other JETs from Saitama. In the end, there were so many of us that we had to split into two different women’s teams.
Once we arrived in Nagano my fear didn’t dissipate, as I still knew nothing about soccer. I was told I would be playing defense (what does that mean??).
The first game started, and I felt woefully inadequate. I didn’t know where to be when, and even if I was where I was supposed to be I didn’t know what I should be doing!
Thankfully, the girl playing goalie felt the same way, so we decided to switch positions. I instantly felt better about this, because at least with goalie I would know where I should be: in front of the goal.
It was ok at first, because the ball was far at the other end of the field. Then it came near me, and I let a really stupid shot in. It had come straight to me, and I put my hands down to catch it, and it rolled right through them! I was so embarrassed. But, much to my own surprise, I quickly redeemed myself, and soon began catching balls as they flew in every direction. I dove, somersaulted, flew, flipped, and dipped in every which way to get the ball. My teammates were impressed and said they’d like me to continue playing goalie.
Each game got progressively better (especially because we found goalie gloves for me to use after the first game) and I started to learn more of the rules. I also started to really enjoy playing goalie.
The best game of the entire tournament was when we played the other Saitama team. We are all friends, so it created some fun dynamics on the field. The best moment was when I dove for a ball, and landed directly into a pile of poo. By best I guess I mean the most hilarious. At first I didn’t realize it happened, until one of the other girls pointed it out. I am so so so thankful it was only on my leg. The way I dove, it could have easily ended up on my face! My screams and my teammates screams (of both shock and laughter) caused madness on the field, and about half of us all ended up on the ground in fits of hysteria. Here’s a picture taken of the field, with some girls on the ground laughing, and me (in blue) dancing about in disgust.
Ultimately, I have some really great memories of some really fantastic saves that made me feel pretty proud of myself. I’m really glad I tried something new, and who knows, maybe I’ll pick up soccer now!
I was really feeling the effects on Monday, however, when I realized every single part of my body was aching!