Soccer appears to be a deceptively simple and easy game and that to a large extent, is it’s beauty. Spectators and fans all over the world tend to feel and some claim that they can do a better job on the field. After all, what could be easier than kicking and heading that round ball a few meters forward or sideways? Most supporters find it hard to fathom that a player may have difficulty in bringing the ball under control with one swift movement and still manage to bank over 100K per week.
But for those who have played soccer, at almost any level, are a little more forgiving. We know from personal experience that soccer perfection, even under ideal conditions is rare indeed. Does a soccer match ever provide us with the ideal conditions?
For starters, your opponents are hellbent on preventing you from executing those fairly easy moves which we have practised with such a degree of success at training. Players from the opposing team are in our way, annoyingly and applying pressure, determined to make us look like fools and subject to ridicule.
The calm and peaceful conditions of training have evaporated and the whole soccer field is now in battle mode. All players are sprinting, running, jumping and tackling, constantly changing the pattern of the game in a tornado sequence of actions and reactions. Could you survive this sequence of events? What does the average supporter, only superficially familiar with the game, percieve from this battle? Suggesting that you could do a better job than the players would be hilarious, don’t you think?
Having spent the greater parts of last night watching Liverpool crush Manchester United it occurred to me that most supporters don’t appreciate the game or simply don’t understand it. A basic understanding of the purpose of soccer and its laws becomes necessary to increase the enjoyment of watching a game. First, soccer is not football (aussie rules) or rugby and is an entirely different game and we must resist the temptation to make comparisons.
Soccer is unique. The whole body except your hands and arms can be used effectively. The whole body is used to tame, control and pass the ball. But let’s not forget, the opponents are poised to pounce and hurt you in any given moment.
When you watch a soccer game, try and watch both teams, not just the one that is dearest to your heart. This sounds easy, but I can reassure you as a Liverpool supporter that it’s quite difficult and sometimes tormenting. But remember this, soccer is like the principles of physics.
- For every action triggers a reaction.
Every movement a player makes you can assure it will be countered and for every forward step you can bet your bottom dollar that it is watched, plotted and probably negated by the opponents. Don’t expect every attack to end in a goal, give some credit to the opposition as well. Try to acquire the art of watching and appreciating the entire match, not just the movements of your team.
Soccer in the millenium or so has undergone several major revolutions and has become incredibly fast and mobile. Unlike the past, all players must learn to play without the ball. In these days of tight marking and close blood thirsty battles, where players are not given space or room to breathe, it is imperative that they should be willing to run off the ball, move, sprint if necessary, when not in possession and not even likely to be. That my friends is why Dirk Kuyt is a great player and should not be subject to ridicule from supporters that know little about the game.
Let me repeat one thing again, try to acquire the art of watching and appreciating the entire match, not just the movement of your team. Kuyt’s running off the ball creates space on the field, often enabling Gerrard or Torres a path to goal. When both these players score they become instant cult figures and deservedly so, but let’s not forget the workers and the battlers that make it a whole lot easier for their team mates.
“What’s that idiot running for, he hasn’t even got the ball”
Supporters that know it all should look at the bigger picture. Comments and abuse like this drives me crazy. If you asked this same person to run down to the local milk bar to buy his cigarettes, he wouldn’t even last the distance. But some how during the biggest derby in the premiership, they either become the greatest coach or the greatest player. Makes you wonder sometimes what these people are smoking during the match.
At the end of the day enjoy the game, support your team with passion and intelligence and remember to celebrate and mock all rival supporters. Can Liverpool win the Premiership and the Champions League, I hope so!
Next time you’re watching soccer with friends and supporters, listen carefully and before you know it the greatest player in the world will magically appear before you.
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