The title to this post suggests that this will be an assortment of random thoughts, because why not. Also, sorry not sorry for another too-many-words on soccer/football.
I love the rainbow banner at the top of WordPress right now. A bad habit of mine is to read other people’s comments on the interwebs. And I have read the thoughts from the non-supporters about the motives for businesses to express their support for equal marriage. Non-supporters say that these businesses simply want to appeal to their target audience to improve their public image. I would likely never know the truth, but I do not want to second guess their motives and am happy to see their public support.
While I’m still on this topic, I have been quite surprised at some people’s views about this topic. This isn’t a topic that I talk about in any stretch of depth with people before. But since the plebiscite is front and centre of the news lately, it’s being discussed. I have been wearing a small rainbow badge on my work uniform for the past few weeks since I joined (or rather, been instructed to fill the quota) the diversity group. While not everybody has noticed the badge, I have been watching people’s reactions to those who have noticed it. There were a few who have seen it because I saw the flicker in their eyes, but chose not to publicly acknowledge it. But I’m happy to say that those who did notice the badge and chose to discuss the topic was a greater number than the previous category of people. Surprisingly (or maybe in more thought that is unsurprising), everyone who did choose to talk to me about it was fully in favour of it (although one did seem like he was just going with the flow for the sake of not being offensive).
It’s been… 4 months since I last posted (I know, I know, even I am amazed by my own procrastination skills). My holiday has come and gone, and I can’t believe it’s been a month already since I’ve come back to everyday life. I’ll post more about my holiday over time, but you can read my not so short summary here if you need a tie-over. No guarantee when I’ll get my holiday posts up though, since I’m even procrastinating on doing a journal log on it!!! But if you want a really really short summary: “Soccer! *Heart eyes x 1 bajillion*”
Nice segue (not gonna lie, I spelt segway at first, good thing I decided to not trust my spelling) to my next segment on soccer (while I was on holidays, I finally switched over to calling it football out of the environment, but I’ve now switched back to using soccer because that’s what everybody uses here).
I mean, soccer!!! Why I care so much about a game where you run around chasing this round ball is beyond me. But god damn, another emotional couple of weeks for me over this damn game. Where do I even start? Well, let’s start from when I left for my holiday and the guilt I felt leaving the team to fend for themselves while I’m off watching the pros play; the weight of sadness sinking in when it finally hit me I would only have a handful of games left with the team after I am back from holidays; and my dread over losing the match fitness I gained during the season and having to work my way back again.
But those negative emotions were very quickly replaced by my bajillion heart eyes that I gave while I feasted over the best of European women’s football (see what I mean!). Like serious heart eyes. I was just short of drooling over how good they were. Not to mention the high I was on when I jumped on the Dutch bandwagon. Interspersed between all the heart eyes were some wide eyes when I learnt that my team lost rather epically to a team which we should have never lost to.
Two weeks after I came back from holidays, we were into the finals series. The few days leading up to the finals, my mind was volatile, even though at the time it didn’t seem that way. Looking back, if there was one thing I need to tell myself, even though I think I subconsciously tried to tell myself then, is to trust. Trust myself, and trust my teammates. In hindsight, I think because of my lack of trust, I felt like I had to carry the team, and I did not deal with that expectation very well during the game. I got way too flustered, and just could not dig myself out of my mental hole. I still think it was my worst game of the season. After we lost, I lost sleep, again. I felt like I let myself down, let my team down. Now I look back, I can say it was a lesson learnt. At the time, quitting altogether not only crossed my mind, it was seriously considered for a couple of days.
The several weeks following our season-ending loss, I was inputting my energy into supporting the other Buderim teams that were still in the titles hunt. Trained with the “A Team” because they did not have enough players; felt inadequate and annoyed that I could not mentally switch over to their style of play and pace immediately and once again questioned why I would even bother trying out for the NPL next year. Kicked around in the U16s training and was continually blown away by the amount of talent some of these young players have and the style of play the team has developed.
Last night and today I watched on as our Buderim female program continues to make its mark on the Sunshine Coast region. Pride, admiration, nervousness, excitement, elation and heart break. All these emotions flowed through me as I watched: our Premier Women win the grand final undefeated for the entire season while conceding only a handful of goals; our Division 3 team kick butt in their grand final, also undefeated for the entire season; our young U12 girls push their physical and mental limits to draw a team they’ve never beaten during season at the end of extra time, and then went on to win their grand final in the penalty shoot out; and our U16s lose a heart breaking grand final as they also went through their season undefeated but fell just short of holding the grand prize.
I’d like to elaborate a little more on the U16s’ game (for my memories, since I’m too lazy to write it down in my journal). I mean, that was really a roller coaster of emotions all in one match. Like I mentioned above, this was a pretty talented bunch of girls and I was really rooting for them to win. I had played with a few of them on my team, and over the last few weeks have gotten to know them a little more through training with them. They went through the whole season undefeated, relatively unchallenged, then in their preliminary final, lost to the second placed team. First loss of the season, and some of them were a little worried, but everyone seemed to have each other’s back and they concentrated on winning their second chance semifinal. No problem there. Then came today, match against the opponents they lost against in the preliminary finals. The match got underway, and very quickly, they were able to score one. Even though they dominated most of the play, the opposition managed to claw one back. Just before half time, the U16s were able to put another one away (thanks to goal-scoring extraordinaire who showed my team how to score a few when she filled in for us). 2-1 half time score. Second half rolled around, Budo scored another early goal to go up 3-1. Still dominated possession and really should have had another 2 goals at least (goal-scoring extraordinaire had 2 clear cut opportunities she probably should have put away). 10 minutes left to go, I was feeling pretty elated for them that they were going to win this thing. Except the universe had other plans. Two lapses in concentration in the last 10 minutes costed them 2 goals and the match went into extra time. In the last 5 minutes of regular time, I started to see panic in their play. As the full time whistle blew, my heart sank. The team only had 1 sub, while their opposition had 5-6; playing 80 minutes with just 1 sub requires stamina, but playing extra time with just 1 sub required even more stamina, the odds were not in their favour. As I watched the opposition score an early goal in extra time, my heart sank even lower as I saw the body language around the team. This was going to be a huge mountain to climb. Despite their physical tiredness that has clearly set in by now, the girls never gave in, they chased every ball they physically could, pushed the opposition defence as far as they could, but the goal just would not come. With several minutes left on the clock, they managed to secure a corner, which turned into a series of corners. But they were dead tired by that point, and the last corner (unfortunately taken by goal-scoring extraordinaire) that was taken, with less than a minute to spare, went straight out for a goal kick. I think that was when my heart really broke for them because she was already on the ground crying, before the final whistle even blew, knowing that she had the chances to help her team win. Not long after, the final whistle did blow, and I saw the girls drop to the ground, several of them crying. If a heart break could be translated into a visual, that was it.
Whilst my heart is still breaking for the girls, I also found myself extremely excited at the prospect of watching these young girls grow and develop, and at the though of perhaps being contribute to their growth as a coach, and perhaps as a teammate in the coming years. All these emotions over a game chasing a round ball. I think that’s why people call it the beautiful game.
I started learning Swedish! Because after I came back from my holidays, I had the urge to learn another European language, in the hopes that one day I will be able to communicate with the locals who can’t speak English! Duolingo has been quite a fun tool to use for this.
Speaking of learning, I need to get back onto my ukulele…
And speaking of getting back into things, I need to start blogging/writing more again!
Until next time (which hopefully isn’t 4 months from now!).
Ending this with a quote from one of my favourite tennis players. This quote captures his idea of how tennis is intertwined with life, and that is how I view soccer and its connectivities with life.
“It’s no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature. Even the structure of tennis, the way the pieces fit inside one another like Russian nesting dolls, mimics the structure of our days. Points become games become sets become tournaments, and it’s all so tightly connected that any point can become the turning point. It reminds me of the way seconds become minutes become hours, and any hour can be our finest. Or darkest. It’s our choice.”