With the International break looming this weekend soccer lovers from all over the world are left wanting, positively disheartened at the idea of not watching their favorite players compete in the beautiful game.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
“Non-League Day” was conceived six years ago as a way for supporters of the English Premier League to go out and enjoy their local soccer offerings during the International break.
While those lucky enough to be living in England are encouraged to go out and see their smaller local teams fixtures, what could fans in the States do?
Often times youth or recreational leagues could use an extra linesmen or even referees. If you’re qualified (and fit enough to pace with the young ones) this would be a great weekend to get out and help support your local youth soccer scene.
If being in the middle of the on-the-field action isn’t your thing there may be opportunities to help set up fields or be score keeper. Don’t be shy about offering a hand, as running matches and tournaments is never an easy task, no matter whether it is recreational, academic, or even professional level soccer.
Grab a friend and Watch the Magic
Keep the TV turned off, call another soccer enthusiast who is sulking in their living room like it’s a tomb and go watch youngsters fall in love with the beautiful game. A wonderful thing happens when you watch kids participate in sports: you remember, it’s all a game, and everyone who has ever gone on to play in college or professionally started by simply loving it.
We get so wrapped up in standings, transfers, bad-calls, mismanagement, and astronomical salaries when all we watch is the professional game. Seeing kids go out and chase down balls, blast shots on goal, and smile with their teammates and friends is the fastest way to center ourselves and remember why we watch in the first place.
There is also the science behind the fact that some of our best conversations come when we have a distraction that doesn’t require us to make eye-contact. Anyone ever find it easier to talk when driving in the car with someone? The same rule applies when there is a care-free soccer game in-front of you. Actively you’re watching, engaging, watching the play build up, but in-between lulls and quiet moments conversation can just come naturally.
Grab a friend, a big thermos of hot chocolate, and enjoy watching those who are just starting to develop their love of soccer.
Lace-up and Have Some Fun
There are leagues for people of all ages. Soccer benefits from being one of those sports that you can play until you’re forty/fifty/you’re-not-done-until-you-say-you’re-done years old.
Just ask the “oldest winger in town” about when it’s time to quit.
“I have lost a bit of speed, but my thoughts are quick and that really counts. I intend to keep on playing, my legs and knees are still good and sturdy.”
Many times the older generation mixes in wonderfully with the younger players, using experience and trickery to up-end youth and vitality. Grey-haireds and old-heads have a natural confidence on the ball that stems from their understanding that this is all meant to be a good time, no matter the result.
Once again we defer to Dickie:
“I just love to get out there for 90 minutes as often as I can.”
Try to gather people for a pick-up game or small pass and dribble session. Get the blood flowing and feel a little bit of that magic that the pros feel when a ball is at their feet.
Don’t wallow this international break, go participate! Your local scene will appreciate it and you’ll be glad you did.