Friday, May 7, 2021

The joy of playing soccer with a stranger

By 14, my football career was taking off. I joined the provincial team for Ontario, a pipeline for the Canadian national team, and was scouted to play internationally for Trinidad and Tobago before hosting a youth World Cup. Playing on that team, I was taken to my father’s birthplace near the capital Port of Spain, where I had once been as a child and barely remembered as a teenager, and the world’s new pockets In, where it seemed that there was always a pick game to find. I used to play with strangers as a way of orienting myself, feeling like an outsider everywhere I went.

I used to play with strangers as a way of orienting myself, feeling like an outsider everywhere I went.

Playing those games felt like pulling a loose string, sorting me out until I gave up was not necessary at all. I was relieved of the pressure to perform, free from the fear of failure. With that freedom came a kind of clarity; The barrier between the person whom others had seen and the one I imagined myself to soften slowly then completely melted away. My football career came to an end after years of knee surgery, I moved to London and wandered into Regent Park to see a sweat-filled sea of ​​(usually men), with full confidence, “Am I involved in this?” Maybe? “

From Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro to McReap Beach in Trinidad, in concrete slabs near a hotel in Venezuela or on a cobbled road in a park in London, I always find myself comfortable playing with a stranger, people with whom I immediately May be rival or harmonious, for whom I have no obligation beyond the game. In a few moments, my body reveals itself. With a quick scissor of the feet, an agile twirl on the ball or a sudden burst in another direction, I can be adventurous and unreliable in a way that I rarely do. I mirror and defy, I taunt and admire, Outmaneuver, Yield and Jost. My initial retardation is soon replaced with skin slaps and barking orders. A fleeting glance directs someone, and a slight tilt of my body fails the other. I feel a flow of satisfaction when my body turns reflexively and flinches, as if guided by someone other than myself. I work in ways that the men of the field never believe that I, a woman, can.

The Belgian novelist Jean-Philippe Toussaint once wrote, “According to Leonardo da Vinci, football is one like painting, Cosa Mantle; It is in the imagination that it is measured and appreciated. “We believe that football is within the limits of our control. We make goal posts, draw boundaries, list stern referees and play the pristine surfaces of the craft with measured breaks. Even today, the entire culture of sports can be disheartening and exclusionary for women; Many of my former peers who now play professionally are paid lower salaries than men and do not seek the same sponsorship, facilities, or airtime. But the improvisation games I’ve played with strangers surpass all of them. With them, I can imagine myself being capable of anything.

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