Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Women's World Cup. And me.

In case you didn't know, the Women's World Cup is currently going on. There was a teeth-clenching, tension-building quarterfinal match-up between Brazil and the USA which we managed to win in PK's (penalty kicks, taken when the game ends in a tie and both 15-minute overtime periods have been played and the teams are still tied). Japan, a team who hasn't really been considered a team likely to win the tournament, beat powerhouse Germany in their quarterfinal 1-0 in one of the most splendid displays of defensive and technical skill I've seen. Then Japan beat Sweden 3-1 in the semifinals, proving to everyone that a collective playing style can win games (I've said that all along but the commentators didn't agree with me until Japan scored their third goal against Sweden). The USA beat France 3-1 in a slightly less emotional game.

So now it's the USA vs. Japan in the final game on Sunday. I'll be cheering for the USA, although Japan is now my other team to cheer for when they're not playing the USA. They won my loyalty through their impressive defensive display. I was a defender back in the day. I'm always a soft touch for beautiful defenses. So it looks to be an exciting day on Sunday. And an exciting day on Thursday. Damm and I are going to the Harry Potter Double Feature event going on (first half of movie at 9:00 p.m., new one at 12:05 a.m.). I'm not used to all this excitement.

But watching the Women's World Cup has made me think about my soccer-playing days. The men's World Cup did too, but not as much. I never could have played in their tournament, obviously, but it was within the realm of possibility (barely. In fact almost not barely. I'm no Wambauch or Solo) to have played in this one.

My thoughts are mainly regret that I didn't try out for any college teams. I'm pretty sure I was good enough; as I got older my confidence (which was my downfall) was improving and I was becoming a pretty good defensive playmaker. But then again, at the time I chose not to continue my soccer career because 1) neither my parents nor I had any idea of how to go about it because we had just moved to Houston when I graduated and 2) I was concerned about my level of dedication to the game. I was obsessed. When I transitioned from rec play to "select" (it's called different things depending on which state you play in, but basically it's when the sport gets expensive because you're constantly traveling to matches and tournaments) I saw that I needed to lose weight. I developed an eating disorder on the way and also became OCD about exercising. Improved my game astronomically. And I would've been willing to pretty much do anything to become better. And when I say that know I was devoting one hour per day to working on mastery of the ball, at least one more hour exercising, and then practice each night (either mine or my brothers) and games on weekends.

So most likely my younger self was preserving my older self, but my older self has been through some confidence-wrecking injuries and looks back on younger self as rather silly for not at least trying out for a college team. Older self regrets not being in the shape it could be in had I not stopped playing. Older self comforts itself that one day it will have time to play again in the adult rec teams.

And now I'll stop referring to myself in the third person. I love watching soccer but it will always be something that makes me somewhat sad. Maybe my kids will want to be soccer superstars in their own right and I can live through them (just kidding. I've seen parents who do that and I won't be one of them. I certainly hope they play soccer but I won't force them).

In the meantime, go USA!