Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A penalty area to call my own

My penalty area was much bigger than this one - think of a small grazing property.
 Outdoor soccer is going well - just one game to go in this little midweek summer league. Not sure if I am going to press on into the regular season or not. So far we have lost every game conclusively. Out of five games I think we have scored twice - our forwards just hardly ever shoot. In this team I play in defence, and as a defender my two jobs are a) repel their forwards and b) criticise our forwards.

We have no regular goalie, and rely on volunteers. Wanting to do the right thing, I put my hand up, and put on the long-sleeved top and semi-rotted gloves. I walked down to my goals, turned around and was suddenly struck by how huge the penalty area is. On this particular field, it went within a couple of metres of the sideline, and seemed to reach more than halfway to the halfway-line. This was my domain, and it made me feel terrified.

In fact, despite having played soccer since Marcia Hines was Queen of Pop, I have never played in goals (not counting indoor soccer of course). These days pop psychology books are written about goalkeepers, what makes people become one, and whether those people should be accepted into polite society or not.

I was only in goals for the first half, but in that time we conceded three goals and I was personally to blame for two. It's a bit like playing doubles tennis, but where your partner is actually four or five other people (your defenders). You have to be very alpha - CALL LOUDLY and CLAIM THE BALL and come ROARING OUT CONFIDENTLY and FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION etc.

Of course, as an opposing forward comes into range, you come out off your line to "narrow the angle" - try to fill the goal. But once you come out he can just pop it over your head, and if he's any good the ball is in the net before you have turned and scrambled back to it. It's just like rushing the net and being lobbed in tennis.

I got a little better as I went along, but generally I felt like I'd given everyone a few pointers on how not to do it. It was quite an experience.

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