Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm back in the game!

My body hurts. My legs are sore, my back aches, and I have blisters on my heels and on three out of ten toes. And it’s AWESOME! These pains are the price I’m willing to pay to do something I love: play soccer.

It’s been oh, say, 5 years since I played any kind of real soccer and given that those five years consisted mostly of drinking copious amounts of watery beer and drunk-munching on ranch-soaked, bacon-embellished megafries, I think it’s safe to say I’m a wee bit out of practice.

But I love the sport. Starting at age 4, my life was pretty much dictated by soccer: the only seasons I knew were fall and spring, holidays were marked not by family gatherings but by tournaments, and at the height of my career (high school) I was playing for not one but two teams and pretty much living in my cleats. Then college came and I reorganized my priorities, choosing to have friends and enjoy myself over another four years of practice, drills, fitness fundays, and weekend-ruining games.

Me (middle) in my prime...and with great bird's nest hair, eek. 

Moving to Argentina has reignited my love for the game, mostly because it’s everywhere. From Maradona’s latest weight gain to hopeful predictions for the Selección in the WC, from riotous fans honking their way down the street to the ubiquitous weekend pickup games in every green space in the city, Argentina lives fútbol. And now I’m a part of it all! Aside from being a reluctant Huracán fan (read about that special experience here) and supporting the national team in their journey to South Africa, I am once again a player of the world’s greatest sport.

I recently joined a group online called Couchsurfers, made up of people who travel the world crashing on various strangers’ couches and those who offer to host them on said couches (an interesting concept, no?) Anyway, some of the Buenos Aires Couchsurfers have been getting together to play small-sided indoor soccer games, and as soon as I saw their list for this week’s games I signed myself up!

I had a vague idea of what to expect, having played in similar situations before back in the States: mostly guys, lots of fancy footwork, a fast pace, and semi-violent contact. And lo and behold! I played Monday night with 1 other girl and 8 guys, and again Wednesday night, with 1 girl and 10 guys. The usual division is Porteños vs Extranjeros, with foreigners coming from all over the world: Germany, Brasil, the US, France, England, Corrientes (another area in Argentina). The pace is definitely fast—we play with the walls so there’s no stopping—and since it’s almost all guys, the play is hard and pretty rough.

Needless to say, I enjoyed myself immensely. That kind of soccer is exactly what I love, and I’m pumped to have found a group who lets girls play. Unfortunately, not many girls here play soccer outside of secundarias and colegios, and it’s almost impossible to get into a guy’s pickup game…they just won’t let chicks play (hijos de puta, the lot of them!) Anyway, I’ll just say that after these two games I think I’ve definitely proved that girls can play at fútbol.

On Wednesday after the game I got to fulfill yet another secret desire: I got to loiter on a dark street with friends. Yes it sounds weird, but you know you’ve seen them: raucous groups of young Porteños sitting in a doorway late at night, laughing and passing around liters of beer. And for some reason, I’ve always wanted to do this myself—it’s kind of like another step towards a more permanent life here…if you’re loitering, you’re living the real life. Or something like that.

Since two of the American players from last night are leaving soon, about 10 of us went out to have some drinks as a kind of farewell party. We bought a few liters of Imperial, retired to a comfortable section of sidewalk down a side street, and just hung out for a few hours, until about 2am. People would walk past and stare disapprovingly at the public debauchery, and I wanted to stand up and say “HA! Look how Argentine I am, drinking beer from the bottle on a public street at 2 in the morning!”

It was glorious.


  1. ¿A visto jugar a Marta Vieira? Esa chica juega mejor fútbol que muchos de los hombres profesionales. En este sitio de YTube puede ver un video de ella.

    Muy simpático su blog Amy.

  2. El mensaje anterior debe leerse: "¿Ha visto jugar.." etc.

  3. si! una buenisima jugadora, mi inspiración jaja!!