When my two new Aussie friends Bec and Morgan invited me to join their club soccer league, I was hesitant. I love soccer, but I’m not exactly a star athlete, as in I haven’t played soccer since I was 12 or so. And since then, the only team sport I’ve played was two years of field hockey in middle school. Pathetic. But I forked over the money and signed my name on the sign-up sheet anyway. How bad could I be?
Pretty bad. That same day, the girls invited me for a relaxed kick-around on the uni fields with some other guys and gals. I agreed instantly- this was the perfect time to test my abilities and brush up on whatever skills I had before the actual games started. I warned Bec and Morgan about my lack of abilities, but they assured me it didn’t matter, that club soccer is just for fun. Our practice turned out much as I had expected. I am a fast runner but lose my breath quickly; I can kick the ball properly but am afraid if it comes at me higher than my knees; I am not bad at getting the ball from people, but once I have it, I can’t do much with it. This last issue was my doom.
Michael is tall, fast, and good with his feet. When he came barreling toward me, gracefully maneuvering the soccer ball toward the goal, I knew I had to take the ball from him in order to gain any sort of respect from my teammates. Clumsily, I managed to do so, but then I was stuck. I was partly surprised that I had managed to gain control of the ball and partly confused as to my next move. There I was, looking around for a teammate, letting the ball sit at my feet. While this was happening, Michael had already decided where the ball should go. He took a giant leap toward me, kicked the ball out of my possession, and landed one of his huge, cleated feet onto the inside of my right foot. I fell to the ground in pain and tried my best not to cry. After a few seconds, I was on my feet again and laughing it off. So cool.
The rest of the evening went just fine. My foot felt better only a few minutes after the collision, and I went to bed thankful I had escaped what could have been a pretty bad scenario. At about 4 am the next morning, the status of my injury had changed drastically. I woke up with a shooting pain in my foot. By 10 am, I was hobbling around campus with crutches and a wrapped foot. The doctor at Griffith Health Services suggested getting an X-ray, but I had no idea how to get to any of the places she listed and decided to put it off.
Thankfully, the next few days I took it easy, and every morning my foot felt better and better. When my alarm sounded at 5:45 am on Saturday morning, it felt as good as new. Just in time for our Moreton Bay adventure.
A side note about soccer in Australia: My new friends here at uni have informed me that Australia is trying to change the term “soccer” to “football” to fit in with the rest of the world. Apparently this is the only place besides North America that calls the sport “soccer,” even though half the country insists on calling it “football.” On that note, for every time an Aussie corrects a word I use, another one insists it’s the right word. Such confusion!