Sunday, August 11, 2013

Soccer boots AND joggers

[Michele] We signed up Will for the Mission Beach youth soccer. Go Barracudas!  He is the only grade 6 kid on a team of very talented grade 7 & 8 kids.   The team has welcomed Will warmly and it has been great to see Will step up his game to their level of play.  OK, well, so far, the under 12 Barracudas have lost every game that they have played but nevertheless they are a great team with a terrific and patient coach.

We anticipated that Will might join soccer so we brought along his cleats, shin guards and some soccer socks.  For the first few weeks that we were here the Barracudas had to practice on some rainy evenings.  The messages left on our mobile read "Practice tonight 5:00 bring soccer boots and joggers."  After some discussion Gavin and I deduced that soccer boots must mean cleats and joggers must mean sneakers.  See, it is really a completely different form of English spoken here!  Why joggers? If the field is too wet, then they practice on the indoor court and no cleats.. erm I mean boots allowed.

All the regional youth soccer games are played on Saturday afternoon at a set of fields in Silkwood, a town 45 minutes away from our house.  The place has something like 6 games going on at once and there is a kiosk that sells drinks and food throughout the afternoon's series of games.  The smell of greasy chips emanating from the kiosk is not something that I had associated with soccer games before.

The Barracudas anticipate the throw in --
or are they distracted by the view...
The soccer center is set in the midst of sugar cane fields.  In this photo at left you can see the cane train cars sitting on tracks at the other side of the field. When they harvest the cane, they load it into these cars that are taken by train engine directly to the sugar mills. In the background of the picture you can see the rainforest covered coast range and in the foreground you can see Barracudas losing a soccer match.

Dead lines of grass and red-roofed kiosk of
greasy food in the background

In this part of far north Queensland, they don't mark the field with chalk or paint.  Instead, the boundaries and key lines on the field are marked with bare strips of no grass. They must apply something to kill the grass along the lines.  All the fields are marked this way at Silkwood and also at Mission Beach State School.  Gavin says that they kill the grass by spreading oil along the desired lines. I've never seen this before and don't appreciate the benefits. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can comment on why this is better than paint.

Aside from being grass killing, cane farming, greasy chip cooking and boot wearing people, the Aussies approach soccer pretty much the same as Americans. The coaches yell comments from the sidelines -- (some supportive and some critical).  Will proudly remarked that his team's coach is much more positive than most of the other coaches.  Mums and dads cheer from the sidelines in folding chairs.  They cheer wildly when the Barracudas have good plays and clap politely when the other team scores. Then, when the Barracudas fall irrecoverably behind in points in the second half, the mums and dads pretty much talk amongst themselves with less attention paid to the game.

ADDENDUM August 17: The U 11/12 Barracudas won!  This breaks their 2-year long losing streak.

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