My head hurts, my knee has turf burn, my ankle is a bit blue and swollen – but I feel great. Must be the start of the indoor soccer season! During the summer months, I played outdoors on a co-ed league – 11 a side. In the winter, I head indoors with a women’s league – 7 a side. I’ve got to say, the first game back to either emphasizes the massive difference in them both.
Outdoors vs. Indoors
I love playing soccer outdoors. Grass would be ideal – lush, healthy grass… not the muddy crap with ground hog holes in it…. That stuffs dangerous! Turf works too – and for some reason outdoor turf is better than indoor turf. The air is blowing (or standing still) and it’s fresh (or city air… whichever works). Point is, you’re outside and being outside is awesome. In the spring/summer when the weather is warm.
Indoors is convenient. I’m glad there is indoor soccer. It makes me all warm and fuzzy on the inside knowing I can batter and bruise myself all winter long. But the fields are harsh – the turf is more like rug than grass. I’m not talking soft Persian rug, I’m talking old, cat piss matted, the landlord promises it has wood floors underneath rug. The air indoors is recycled*… so when I get to the field at 8pm, I’m breathing the recycled air of every team that practised there, all day, breathing and sweating and perspiring… and their sweat is evaporating and being breathed in. And it’s stagnant… no breeze, no nothing to make you feel like you might potentially be outside, just with walls around you for some reason. Oh no… stagnant, heavy, days worth of sweat filled air. (I may or may not have just gagged). I can assure you that breathing is much more difficult indoors than outdoors (except on those crazy hot summer days when you can barely move… those days, breathing is just as difficult). Granted, as the indoor season progresses, I adapt. But this first game back…. my lungs hate me.
*I think. It might actually be filtered in from outdoors. I’ll have to research this next time I’m there… but it feels recycled and that’s why my point is still valid.
Co-ed vs. Women’s Leagues
Guys kick hard and play rough, but they’re very timid around the women on the opposing team. Given that each team is required to have 3 women on the field at all time, that’s 3 players that can push, shove and march their way through the big, tall guys. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Most guys get over their timidness half way through the season. But that’s ok with me. I find it challenging, and entertaining, to go up against a guy on the field. Challenging because the more talented ones are just that, challenging… and more often than not they get by me… Which is ok, I’ve slowed them down enough that one of my team mates can get back to defend. Entertaining because when I do actually win the ball…. they’re so surprised! (not all mind you… the league I play in has some quality players who respect and acknowledge that on the field we’re all equals).
Also, when you’re playing with a group of guys, tempers can get heated and loud noises may start to emerge. That’s ok too. They hash it out and then get back to playing the game. Issue done. Happy players. (unless of course they don’t hash it out, then it’s loud noises for the duration of the game and a short period after until we all go our merry ways home). Either way, you know what’s going to happen.
Women on the other hand are catty little creatures. OK, that’s a bit of an understatement (those of you with more sensitive vocabularies may want to cover your eyes for this next part). Women on the field are bitches. That’s right, bitches. I’m one of them and I’m fully aware of it. I glare, I get angry, I pout… ok, no pouting, but there you have it. Thing is, I ONLY do this with the women’s league (at least that I’m aware of). Anyway, I think you get the point. No one is timid. You play as you want to play – aggressive, stand-offish. It’s your prerogative. It’s awesome. Because every single one of them (ok, that’s also an exaggeration) is a sweetheart off the field. Yes, there are a few I would like to hit over the head with a large, cylindrical shaped object that may or may not be squishy, but for the most part – we’re all nice gals.
The field is the only place where I’m truly, honestly aggressive when I need to be. I know what to do (most of the time) and am (usually) 100% certain of myself. And I’m kinda a big push over in real life, so that’s saying something… sorta. Incoherently, but the meaning is buried in there somewhere.
The point is, in a women’s league, you never really know if you’re going to go home with scratch marks on your back from when that girl literally tried to claw her way through you to get to the ball.
11 vs 7 a side
I love both of these equally. The surprising fact here is that you’d think there’d be more running in 11 a side. There is… and there isn’t. 11 a side, you jog up and down the field, occasionally sprinting… then return to jogging (by the end of the game… or usually in my case the first 5 seconds, your jogging has turned into walking… then standing still). The great thing about this is that, when your team rocks and you’re on defence… you hardly do anything! The crappy thing about this is when your team rocks and you’re on defence… You get the picture. 11 a side is how the game is made to be played… But sometimes, you just can’t get enough people in a league to do that… or you can’t get the field time… and that’s where 7 a side comes in… this size, is the hyper younger sister to 11 a side. It’s crazy fast paced – you’re not jogging up and down the field, you’re sprinting. SPRINTING. For nearly the entire time you’re on (you better hope you have subs!) You gotta think quick, pass quick, run quick, fall quick and get up quick, just so you don’t miss the ball by an inch and then they score (worst feeling ever… don’t worry, it fades just as quick as everything else moves in the game). I’d have to say that 7 a side is where the cardio really pumps. For me anyway.
11 a side gives you time to think, to make plays when you want to make them; 7 a side… you act on instinct (trying not to always be reactive, because that’s when you can get stuck on your heels… heels are a bad thing to be on in a game faster than the time it takes to write this blog). It’s almost a completely different game.
I love soccer. I’ve been playing since I was in grade four (or maybe younger, I can’t really remember) and I’ll keep playing until the day my legs stop working (or perhaps just before, so that I can still be mobile…) There’s a freedom on the field that I have never experienced anywhere else in life. It’s rejuvenating (even as its slowly destroying my knees). So that’s what I have to say about that.