I played a game with my indoor team “Where’s the Beer?” last night. I think we lost 19-1 or something along those lines. It wasn’t pretty. I’ve learned that the most important element in the match is coming out of the match with a degree of pride for the way that you’ve played. You can’t come out of a 19-1 loss and have pride in anything, and so I decided to put some time into what went wrong.
The league that I play in is a competitive co-ed league. I’m gonna go ahead and say that the key component to success in a co-ed league is the quality of the girls on the team. Generally the guys on each team tend to cancel each other out, and so the determining factor ends up being the ladies. So it would be really easy using this theorem to say that clearly our girls just let us down. It was 19-1 after all.
But, in this case, which seems to be the exception which proves the rule, the theorem is wrong.
I love the game of soccer. I love competition. I love how anonymous individuals can together form a group, call it a team, and work together towards a common goal. Soccer is about passion. You don’t have to be the best, but you have to love the game. You have to love the challenge of being one on one versus a defender and attacking the goal. You have to have the patience of a saint in allowing a possession to develop. You have to be selfless enough to make a run off the ball knowing that you’re expending energy with no chance of getting the ball, but hoping that a teammate recognizes the space and makes the appropriate run.
We failed to do that because our individuals didn’t understand the mechanics that make the game beautiful. They weren’t selfless; they weren’t patient; they weren’t passionate. People didn’t run, and then they didn’t sub. People didn’t play defense, and then looked surprised when they didn’t get a pass. The philosophy of the game was that we have more players than they do which means we should be able to outrun them. That isn’t soccer.
Next game we need to start with the basics. Start with defense first. Don’t move up the field unless there’s a reason to. Going up the field because the ball is there isn’t a reason. Understand your responsibility on the field. Know that everyone plays defense, and that playing defense first and holding the game close is more important than making a run, and losing shape or focus. Let’s start there. We’re going to lose the next game, I can almost guarantee it. But from there, we can start to learn how to not lose, and by the end of the season we should learn to win.
The end goal… step on the field to play the game.