It’s November and I’m gearing up for the start of the indoor soccer season. I’ve been playing recreational soccer for a few years now with women from my neighbourhood. The success of women’s soccer is phenomenal. Many of us didn’t ever play as children and we learned the rules by watching our kids compete. Now it’s our turn!
We play both the indoor and the outdoor sorts of soccer and while I love being outside, I prefer the indoor game.
Our league plays indoor soccer in hockey stadium with astro turf over where the ice would usually be. It’s a short field–which I like–and that makes for much faster play. Also, for extra fun, you had use the boards for rebounding the ball. And in indoor soccer, you can switch players without a pause in play and so when things get really busy we sometimes play 5 min, 5 min off.
I love playing on a team and I wish I’d learned about this earlier in life. There isn’t a lot in my past that I regret. I’m just not the “regretting” sort. Mostly I treasure the valuable stuff, try to forget the bad, and if there’s lessons to be learned from mistakes I’ve made I try to learn them and move on.
But as an adult-onset athlete I do occasionally regret that I didn’t discover my athletic self earlier in life. When I was growing up there was still the split between “smart” and “sporty.” You could be one or the other, but rarely both. I was definitely the bookish sort. I loathed gym class, team sports, and especially the Canada Fitness Test (on which I scored Bronze every single year.)
And I didn’t play team sports at all. For a short while I took figure skating classes (good brand new Canadian that I was) and I remember trying T-ball as a child. I did some swimming classes along the way but I think that might have been it other than casual outdoor play, walking to school, swimming in oceans and lakes, and bike riding with friends. Not bad, but not particularly athletic either.
I had also an idea that I was a chubby child. I joined Weight Watchers for the first time in Grade 6. I still remember how much I weighed when I stepped on their scale, 133 lbs. At the time I was the tallest kid in my class and I don’t think I was that much shorter than I am now. My parents meant well. They wanted me to avoid the lifetime of weight gain, and dieting, that’s plagued other family members. But now I look at back at Grade 6 me and think there was nothing that a little sports plus growing a few inches wouldn’t cure.
Sometimes now though I watch teenage girls playing rugby and wish that were me. I’ve ridden with several groups of women cyclists and I really loved racing as a team. There’s a community and a camaraderie in team sports that I didn’t know existed. I love that each person has strengths and weaknesses and working as a team means you find a way to contribute the thing that you do best.
I do wish that schools did a better job of encouraging children who are not particularly athletic to be active (yoga, dance etc). I wish we did a better job with individual, rather than team, sports for children. I’m thinking here of running, biking, swimming, etc. With girls, I’m glad our idea of appropriate sports is getting more broad. There wasn’t rugby for girls when I was growing up. But I also wish in my own case that I’d discovered how much I love team sports when I was younger. I might have avoided a lifetime of dieting! But more importantly, there was a good that my life could have contained that it didn’t.
I’m making up for lost time now!