On Winning and Losing

Winning Our First Game of The Season
We finally won our first game of the season in the 30 and over coed soccer league. I wouldn’t say that our victory was sweet because at the end of the game our team looked defeated. It was a frustrating win. We struggled against the team that was ranked the lowest in the league, and they even had fewer players out there than we did for the first half of the game. At one point, they were ahead by two goals. I thought for sure we lose yet another game. But then, one of the midfielders managed to score two consecutive goals; moments later, someone else on our team scored another. We won in the last few minutes of the game. Whereas I felt the team should be celebrating, they were mostly sitting quietly taking off their soccer shoes, exhausted by the heat, and frustrated by how long it took to turn the game around.
That game was won by my teammates. As for myself, I still felt like I was drowning out there. If you have ever come close to drowning in a pool like I have, you know that as your bring your face up to gasp for air as you are trying to stay afloat, you can see all around you. But then you sink back down after having swallowed more water in exhaustion. That’s how I had been feeling out there in the soccer field these last few games. Only I wasn’t swallowing water, I was swallowing fear. After that first game, which felt a lot like the ending to the movie Platoon, where the grenades were just going off and there was no place to run for cover, I was afraid to be out there in the field with those soccer grenades. I would get so nervous before a game. Part of me would start to wonder why I signed up for this. What was I thinking? There was no way I was quitting though. I just couldn’t anchor myself to the field or to the presence of the game. I had no idea what I was doing. When my husband and teammates talked about the game, I couldn’t recall the plays or players they talked about. It was all a blur, no clearer than the sights seen from a scary fast roller coaster.
In the scrimmages I’ve played there are usually only twelve players out there, and the field is much smaller. My team consists of about 6 players and we generally don’t hold our positions since there are so few of us. I hadn’t learned to keep my line and stay on my side of the field, a very basic skill in soccer. I also hadn’t learned how to dribble or control the ball very well, or how to hit the ball hard so that it moves further than my usual five-foot range. What I am good at is chasing after someone who’s got the ball and get in their way, or even managing to steal the ball from them. I even jump in front of the speeding balls and get hit in order to block the goal. I play with heart not skill. I've played well in the scrimmages because I’m relaxed and seize the moment, in the games I didn't even have that.

On A Personal Victory
This last Sunday we played again and it was the first time I felt grounded during a game. I knew my position and where I should be running up and down on the field as an outer mid fielder. I managed to block players and had a better handle of the game. The team captain told me to block this one girl in her early twenties. I stayed with her for the most part and she pushed me when I was challenging her for the ball. I’ve been more relaxed this week, so I took it as a compliment and softly pushed back. She never scored. We lost the game even though we were up by two goals by half time. This time there was more camaraderie after the game, at least we played well for the first half of the game before we ran out of steam. We are getting to know each other as teammates. I was so happy, excited, and very relieved because I had finally played a good game. At last I didn't feel like I was drowning out there. I had contributed to the game and to the team. And, it was even fun. I was grateful I'd signed up after all.