I've been intending on writing a post about futbol, or soccer as its known in the United States. A conversation I had with one of my students spurred me to finally write about the world's most popular sport. Rodrigo and I were talking about living one's lifetime in Latin American countries such as Argentina. He briefly explained how playing futbol is the greatest escape to living in times of political or economic uncertainty or instability. Many of the people here and around the world have grown up playing futbol since they were able to walk. Ahhh, it all makes sense, thus the explanation to why I'm being crossed-up left and right on the field. For those unfamiliar with futbol lingo, being crossed-up refers to being beat or being "schooled." It happens to the best and worst of us. (Note: futbol is an international sport and I'm not directly correlating it to 3rd world countries).
The most experience I had with the sport was as an eight-year old playing in a little summer soccer league, essentially a way to get me out of the house and run around. To be completely honest the most I remember about my infant soccer career was how much I looked forward to halftime for the orange slices, the next Pele right? Since that time in my life until my arrival in Buenos Aires, I had completely lost appreciation for the sport. Then I stepped into my first pick-up game here and immediately began kicking myself, figuratively and literally.. eeehhh. I'm decently athletic as I played three sports in high school and love to play any sport in time when the opportunity has arisen since. However, I do enjoy the challenge of being the worst to step on the field.
Now it's been nearly three or four months since Mike and I have begun our ''out of retirement'' futbol career. When we step on the field now, we're about the middle of the pack in talent, feels good to actually out play someone else on the field... anyone else. Though I must be honest and tell you a little secret, those who I usually out play are other yankees. I've yet to step up the game to an international level, so to speak. Rodrigo was speaking some truth. For that one hour of competition nothing else matters but staying afloat on skill level against players from Brazil, Ireland, England, Argentina, France, Germany and Norway. It's become a weekly affair as Mike is the only one gracious enough to organize the games, thanks Mikey! Just that thrill of competition, even simple pick-up games, truly does provide a quick escape.
What's also very interesting to observe is the difference in styles between players from different countries. These are my short-lived observations: Brazilian players have style and are very flashy; English players play good defense and are intense; Argentines are very good passers and maintain possession a lot even if it doesn't result in a goal; and the beloved yankees play like its basketball without hands, however, usually lack much effectiveness to their style... like myself :).
Of course, there are exceptions, our friend Camara from Washington D.C. is one of the best forwards on the field. The best all-around player would be Marcelo, Argentine, who is that guy who makes everyone else better on the team. He's like the Michael Jordan of Argentine pick-up footie... and I, I'd like to say Scottie Pippen of the field but I think I'm still fighting my way out of "waterboy" status. What does your status matter when you're escaping the madness of everyday life anyways?
Below are two pics of just some of the guys we play with:
Left to right clockwise: Josh (England), Keeger (Ireland), Camara (Wash D.C.), Mischa (England), Etienne (Germany), myself, Marcelo (Argentina), Dave (England), Mikey (San Diego, CA).