Categories
Football/Soccer Poems Thinkers

Ode to Marcelo Bielsa


Marseille. Bilbao. They

sing his name. Not for trophies.

For his character.

Categories
Football/Soccer Poems

Help Wanted: Sunday League Libero


Role: Stopper. Busser.

Tasks: Sweep behind the back four.

Tidy up their mess.

Categories
amreading Football/Soccer writer's inspiration

Soccer in Random Places: The Dangerous Book for Boys and the joy of practice


With libraries and bookstores closed I’ve returned to my own shelves. During a session of pull-any-book-off-the-shelf and read game, I stumbled on this excerpt from The Dangerous Book for Boys.

Titled: The Rules of Soccer, it reminded me of the joys of practice.



Soccer is the example, but the idea of practice, daily practice, applies to any discipline:

It’s an old, old phrase, but “practice makes perfect” is as true today as it was hundreds of years ago. Natural-born skill is all very well, but it will only take you so far against someone who has practiced every day at something he loves.


Further reading:

How I practice at what I do – by Tyler Cowen

People who have not yet succeeded but maybe they will – by henryeoliver

Learn Like an Athlete – by David Perell

Categories
Football/Soccer Poems

Behind Closed Doors


Blinded eyes. Voices

silent. Splintered benches sit

alone. Football rests.

Categories
Football/Soccer Poems

Goalkeeper


Penalty given.

Gloved fingertips stretch beyond

her limitations.

Categories
Cities Football/Soccer

Pick-up Soccer Journal: Entry 01.18.2020


We’re playing at a different location today.

After two days of rain the sun is finally showing face. I drive pass the Radha Krishna temple, and the Montessori, hoping I’m not one of the last to arrive (first 22 play). Google maps? That rude bastard. He rides shotgun, but after every sub-division interrupts Andy Brassel’s commentary on Juventus’ historic 2003 semi-final win over Real Madrid.

I arrive on time, but as a group we’re late. Our back-up field is packed with weekend amateurs.

The diligent and disciplined have laid out their cones, set up their goals, and snatched up every free patch of turf.

We sit in the parking lot and argue which field we should play at now. From my car, I see heads nod. Some laughs are exchanged. Our Congress works like Washington’s – slow.

The majority come to an agreement and we drive back to the park we normally play at. The field waits for us, dotted with gulls spearing at worms in the wet soil.

A few of us run through some half-hearted old man stretches. Others chat about their midweek indoor matches. The fights that broke out. The incompetent referees. The games lost.

Alberto and Mo choose teams and we break off.

90 minutes of bliss ahead.


Categories
amreading Commonplace Book Football/Soccer

An appreciation of Lionel Messi, from the Paris Review?


You’re standing in one place, one patch of grass on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Seville, playing a game, which is to say doing your job, which is playing a game. A ball floats in the air toward you. You’re in one place and you’re in all possible places. Your name is stamped between your shoulder blades. You turn your back away from the ball. We all know who you are. You balance yourself and focus. What you’re about to do has no name.

From: They Think They Know You, Lionel Messi. By: Rowan Ricardo Phillips. The Paris Review, February 26 2019

I love finding pieces on footballers from outside of traditional football journalism. Especially when a masterful writer can share a new vision.

Rowan Ricardo Phillips accomplishes a rare feat with his Paris Review piece: They Think They Know You, Lionel Messi. He helps us relish, treasure again, this moment where we still have the opportunity to watch Lionel Messi at the peak of his powers.

Rowan reminds us not to take it for granted.

Categories
amreading Commonplace Book Football/Soccer

It Begins with Cruyff


‘Every disadvantage has its advantage’, ‘The game always begins afterwards’ , ‘If I wanted you to understand it, I would have explained it better’…

From: Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic genius of Dutch football. Winner, David. pg 4.

A proper Dutch football book always opens with a few Johan Cryuff maxims.

Categories
Commonplace Book Football/Soccer

Blaise Matuidi’s surprising admirer


Blaise Matuidi has many admirers. Us and Carlo Ancelloti among them.

But he also has a surprising fan boy.

Pep Guardiola.

At first glance, Blaise doesn’t possess the ideal qualities of a Pep Guardiola player. His technique on the ball can be clumsy. His passing range is limited. Yet Blaise still managed to leave an impression on Pep.

Former Clairefontaine youth coach Francisco Filho shares the story:

We had just finished a tournament in Las Palmas. We won. Pep Guardiola was there, on holiday. Alongside his brother, who was organising the tournament, we dined together. He saw our match and he said to me: ‘When I will be manager (he was still playing in Qatar at the time), I want a player like your #6.’ Who was it? Blaise Matuidi.”

Shout out to Get French Football News for originally sharing the story.

Categories
amreading Commonplace Book Football/Soccer

Santi Cazorla, clever gerbil


He’s 5ft 6in tall and weighs 10 stone, a healthy height and weight for a well-developed 13-year-old boy. He remains an amiable, slightly goofy figure, resembling in close-up less a hyper-toned modern athlete, more a very clever gerbil with a pocket watch and a tailcoat who knows how to fly an air balloon and drive an old-fashioned car.

Miracle man Cazorla dances on as last of Spain’s pioneer generation. By Barney Ronay, The Guardian.

A perfect description of Spain’s ageless playmaker.