Soccer with a View
One of my favorite things to do on any of the past AFAR trips has been to try and play soccer in each of the countries. I’m happy to say that I was able to continue this activity in Greece this summer.
In Belize last year, there was a nearby dirt field that a few of the other students and I went and played on with some of the local kids and young adults. This was one of my favorite experiences on any of the AFAR trips because I was able to combine a passion of mine with the local culture. In Greece this summer, we had both pros and cons with the soccer situation. The downside was that we didn’t have any local kids (or adults) around at the time that we could play against. However, the bright side included a nice, fenced-in, turf field. While these amenities were good to have, nothing beat the view of the what the turf looked out upon. One side consisted of slightly run-down condo-style living, while the other side held a beautiful view of surrounding mountains. Part of the soccer fencing ran up against a precipice which held a distant height, making the view absolutely breathtaking. The situation as a whole was personally one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. To be able to do something I love in such an amazing environment really blew my mind.
As far as the actual scrimmage went, we started by splitting up into two teams of six. There was a big rivalry between the two Varsity soccer coaches on one team vs. a pair of Varsity soccer teammates on the opposing team. The eight remaining spots were filled by other students on the trip as well as our very own Mat Saunders. It was a hard-fought battle between the two teams, including some blisters, hard hits, unfortunate shin kicks, but of course lots of fun. Almost everyone who played was able to score a goal, making it fun for everyone and not just the soccer enthusiasts. This actually posed a little bit of a challenge throughout the game, all the while making it both more interesting and funny. The regular players (and coaches) had to teach the newcomers where they should go and what they should do, which ended in some mistakes that everyone was laughing at. In the end I’m pretty confident in saying that anyone who played, as well as some of the spectators, would be happy to go back and play again if we had more time.