PLAY with the PROS

Writer practices with the Victoria Highlanders FC Soccer Team

Reporter Kyle Slavin plays with the Victoria Highlanders in Play With the Pros



“Well, you’re not the worst I’ve seen,” coach Steve Simonson yells to me from the touchline of the soccer field. I think he’s just being nice – I can’t imagine anyone worse than me.

I touched the ball three times during my bout playing with the Victoria Highlanders. And each time I immediately panicked – only then realizing that I can’t handle the pressure of ball possession, even if it is just a practice. So I kicked it away.

The first time I kicked the ball out of bounds. The second time I kicked it directly to an opposing player. And the third time I didn’t even finish my kick before the ball was stolen.

I’m not a soccer player. I retired from the sport after being hit in the face with the ball, breaking my glasses, during Grade 7 gym class. I really didn’t fare any better coming out of a 13-year retirement to attempt to play high-level soccer.

“I didn’t like the fact that you were on my team. I would’ve preferred it if you were on the other team,” captain Tyler Hughes tells me. I don’t blame him – soccer’s a hard-fought, competitive sport, and I’m a liability to talented athletes.

Apparently I’m a liability to myself, too.

I tried mirroring the Highlanders’ fast and fancy footwork (there are impressive movements, what can I say?) and rolled my ankle.

Three hours in the emergency room, five X-rays and two days on crutches with a pulled ligament in my right foot – that’s what I get for trying to play with the pros.

Okay, so maybe soccer with the Victoria Highlanders and a foot injury isn’t the ideal way to start off this new athletic endeavour of mine.

But it goes to show just how much skill and practice is required to play a sport at a high enough level to not to look like a fool out on the field. I’m certainly not getting to that point any time soon.

By Kyle Slavin

kslavin@saanichnews.com

@kslavin

 

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