A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
Otherwise Known As: The World Game, Football
Key Rules: Playing Soccer is a lot like being a teenage boy at a co-ed high school. No touching. And if you do need to move something, always use your feet. Never get ahead of your classmates, otherwise you’ll look uncool and put people offside. By the by, the referees are all retired train signalmen or frustrated Mardi Gras parade participants, they will spend most of the 90 minutes of game time doing furious flag waving and whistle blowing on the side-lines.
A Brief History…
Soccer is known as the World Game, not because everyone in the world plays it but because (in a HR masterstroke of epic proportions) in actual fact no one really knows where in the world it came from and if we’re honest, the United Nations already have enough major issues on their plate without this coming up again.
Some suggest it began in China in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, whilst others point out that the Ancient Romans and Greeks used to kick round things and frolic around with gay abandon. What they don’t realise is that these depictions are probably just of them accidentally kicking giant decorative marble balls and jumping about in sheer pain. Nevertheless, there are also those who suggest this ball kicking sport may have originated in Japan, that there were Inuits in Canada who kicked around huge balls of moss and at one point a group of Egyptian woman who were also fond of kicking a ball about. So all we can really conclude from this is that the world has been obsessed with playing with balls for the last few millennia.
Further research does show that the English and Scottish are the two groups who have been lauded as the most prolific ‘ball-playing’ countries in the recent past. So much so in fact, that for several centuries in the Middle Ages all ‘Futeball’ and ball playing was banned by the King as it was getting a touch too violent and his wife was getting a few too many ideas (think 50 Shades of Grey for the Medieval Woman). Finally in the 19th Century, some clever chaps from the universities and Public Schools in England wrote up the Cambridge Rules which they hoped would keep the ruffians in check (it HAD been at least 450 years since King Edward III had to ban the game due to excessive biting) and organised to play amongst themselves.
A mere fifty years later in 1863, once all of the Old Boys had graduated, had children of their own who had graduated and they were all sitting around drinking whisky reminiscing about the old days before they all graduated, they decided to form a few clubs and start a competition. Suddenly the Football Association was born, the game of Soccer was formalised in England and it began to spread like wildfire across the Continent and the Americas as English soldiers, travellers and Old Boys traversed the world playing with their balls.
By the turn of the century, Soccer had become so prolific that they formed an International Governing Body called FIFA, primarily to organise World Cups, argue with the IOC over the amateur status of the teams entering the Olympics, run competitions in each of the regions and to siphon money illegally by accepting bribes to host both of the aforementioned where there is lots of oil.
It was around the same time, that Indoor Soccer also arose as a way for teams to train and play during the colder months. This format of the game has always been particularly popular in North America, where the inability to feel your feet or limbs during a winter season of Soccer has a rather detrimental effect on the whole notion of kicking the ball, receiving the ball and feeling for the ball, well feeling for any balls really.
Since then, the game itself has remained rather standardised, whilst the art and skill of kicking a round ball around with your mates has now blossomed into a multi-billion dollar global business, and that’s just the bribes rolling in and out of FIFA’s headquarters. Players are also paid exorbitant amounts to train occasionally, turn up on all days of the week, have fantastic haircuts, drive fancy cars and date those pesky people called models and pop stars.
However, credit where credit is due. For over 85 years, Soccer has provided the opportunity for countries from all around the world to earn a place to play in the pinnacle of the sport – The World Cup. Regardless of the socio-economic standing, GDP, cultural beliefs or history of each country, Soccer and the World Cup have continued to provide an equal, fair and well-renowned opportunity every four years for people everywhere to come together and celebrate their deep love of balls.
Soccer, it truly is the World’s Game.
The Top Five Reasons You Should Play Soccer
Reason One: You Love Walking Around in Your Underwear
When you play Soccer, you immediately become an Underwear model.
Cast your mind back to all of those occasions where your mother, sister, brother, cousin, girlfriend, wife, husband, neighbour, housemate, cat, dog, aunty, goldfish, postman called you out and told you off for walking around in your undergarments. Remember the frustration, the annoyance, the itching of your pants and shirt rubbing against your skin, the shame… oh the shame. Well friends, you shall itch no longer.
Just like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, the minute you step onto the Soccer pitch it will suddenly become not only okay for you to parade around in your underwear, but celebrated amongst the people when you do. There will be magazine articles, full page spreads in the newspapers, billboards on the world’s busiest intersections of you in your finest tighty whiteys. And really, would you expect anything less from a game that has celebrated balls for the last three thousand years?
Reason Two: You Are Secretly the Next Don Burke
Let’s be honest. You love watching grass grow. You will happily sit and stare at something where there is very little movement or excitement for hours on end and still find great satisfaction. Your hobbies include fishing, watching paint dry and posing for nude paintings, anything that involves a lack of movement, interaction or engagement of any kind. In fact, spending your weekend paying to watch people play kick to kick for an hour and a half while singing rhymes and chants in the World’s Second Biggest Boys Choir is your idea of Paradise. Fantastic news! Soccer is the game for you!
When watching or playing Soccer, there will be 90 minutes of a ball travelling up and down a field, whilst you get to sit there idly singing away, as the little side-line umpires do their flag waving dances, and just watch the grass as it grows. As there is very little else happening on the field to distract you, you can admire the length of the grass, the way it sways in the breeze and how it springs back to life after being trod upon. Just when you think your inner Don Burke cannot handle any more excitement, you will look up and realise that the game has finished, the scores are 0-0 and despite spending 90 minutes playing with their balls, no one has scored. Well except you of course, damn that grass looks fine!
Reason Three: You Are Allergic to Chlorine and Afraid of Heights.
Traditional Olympic Diving involves both leaping off a platform or board at a decent height and landing into a vat of chlorinated pool water. In a blatantly divist move, the nature of the sport cuts out all of those potential Olympians who love diving but are terrified of heights and burst out in hives every time they go near chlorine.
Luckily, they invented the game of Soccer, where diving frequently and for no particular reason is not only accepted but particularly welcomed in certain parts of the world. Whilst in Australian Soccer, diving is not altogether common (as we are all born with the innate ability for water based activities and therefore quite enjoy diving in an actual pool), it is frequently practised in Europe where the genetic makeup of most of the inhabitants lends itself to yodelling, pizza eating, beer drinking and climbing mountains more so than humble water based activities such as diving. Such is their dedication to diving however, they have made an art form of it on the Soccer pitch, where people can be seen flying about in perfect formation regularly and for no apparent reason.
Should you take up Soccer diving, there is one small anomaly you must be willing to live with… In actual Diving, you get a score based on the quality of your dive however there are no such scores given in Soccer. In fact, the only thing that seems to happen here is the opposition player standing nearest to you is given either a Red or Yellow card for your efforts. Blatantly unfair if you ask me.
Reason Four: You Have Always Wanted to Star on Days of Our Lives
Remember accidentally flicking over to Channel 9 on any given afternoon and hearing those fateful words ‘Like sands through the hourglass, these are the Days of Our Lives’ before falling into a deep, meditative state as you enjoyed the overacting, arm waving and general tragedy of Ridge Forrester and whichever woman was trying to poison, marry, divorce or electrocute him this week? Remember how you would sit there and think, ‘Gee, I wish I could do that… if only I had an audition tape of all of my best overacting skills…’
Soccer is a game for anyone who has ever had dramatic aspirations but a Father who pushed them into sporting pursuits instead. It is the game where you can surreptitiously build an impressive overacting acumen and be praised for being athletic at the same time. Why you may ask? Because it is imperative that when playing Soccer you must be able to fall over at will, roll around on the floor like you’ve been electrocuted, scream in absolute agony and do a lot of deep breathing doubled over like you are suffering acute appendicitis. And all at the mere sight of an opposition player.
Reason Five: You Need to Up Your Dating Game
In the age of Tinder, Grindr, RSVP, Speed Dating and Ashley Madison, the old fashioned ways of dating and expressing your interest in a potential partner have become largely unpractised. To the point that on the rare occasion we forget our phone, or the not so rare occasion our iPhone battery goes flat, and we are left without our usual slew of apps and devices we are actually unsure of how to proceed.
Fear no longer friends, with great Soccer playing skills come great pick up skills! Soccer is primarily about the deft, agile and powerful movement of the feet through heavy traffic whilst gently caressing the ball. Which incidentally also describes the key skills required in the ancient Art of Footsies. Once you take up Soccer you will become well practised and confident in your Footsie ability and start to unleash this on unsuspecting but largely impressed and appreciative others whom you have a distinct interest in whilst you are sitting down at the table. Once engaged, it won’t be long before your Footsie skills accelerate your mutual love of balls to unchartered playing fields!