“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