I know I had said no more posts about the new women’s chill soccer league I’ve been following this year. But recently in our playoffs I was a part of some not-winning fun that I want to tell you about it.
It was nearly time for my team’s final game of the season, and we were waiting to play while the top two teams finished a shootout after their tie game. Many people looked on as players from each team alternately kicked the ball at the goal while the opposing team’s goalkeeper defended. Watching players remarked around me that shootouts are exciting but stressful. I agreed!
Both teams did a great job, and after the shootout the winning team stayed out in the field to take pictures with a trophy while the other team did not.
Then it was our turn to play. One of our teammates joined our opposition because they were short extra players, so both teams had two substitutions. At the end of our evenly matched game we were tied, just like the game before us.
Players from both teams were out on the pitch after the buzzer went, when someone asked, “Can we just end in a tie and not do the shootout?”
Did we have to go through the stress of a shootout to determine a winner and a loser? What did the team captains have to say? Both captains were okay with it, so then when we asked the ref he said needed to check first. As he trotted over to the other field to consult with the head ref, someone from our team said, “If we just all left the field now, what could they do?”
But we did wait, and it was fine. We two teams left the field at the same time, without a final game shootout, to get our drinks and celebrate a great season together.
What it meant to me
In considering what makes a non-aggressive rec women’s soccer league this past season, I also observed players trying to have more say in the type of game they wanted to play. Change was sometimes hard to make because of established regulations, different expectations, and traditions of past seasons.
I developed much admiration for the league organizer (Cindy) who involved players in some key decisions, the team captains who discussed issues that sometime arose during the season, and the officiants who adjusted their calls for our level of play, even when there were differing views about what aggressive play looked like.
In the end, our teams’ choice not to compete in a shootout embodied what I think this league was meant to be about. It’s will sound corny, but I think it’s still true: when we players decided to leave our final game as a tie, we all ended up winning.
See how the league developed in my post series: