About two years ago my life consisted of being a mom to two elementary-aged kids, a wife to an overworked husband, and for all intents and purposes, a bored and somewhat miserable housewife. I spent my days cleaning or decorating the house, cooking and eating, and fantasizing about moving to a new house somewhere far away just so I could have an “adventure”. I exercised almost every day but never saw anything come of the hard work, and hurt all over… my knees were a mess, my wrists were constantly giving me problems, and my lower back gave me so much pain I had to see a chiropractor at least three times a week. My friends consisted of my mom, my sister, and my sister-in-law and the generic “acquaintances” on Facebook. In my free time I watched real estate and cooking shows, and scrapbooked my life into scrapbooks that no one ever looked at. Although I loved the people in my life, it was boring. I hadn’t made a friend in years, and I was growing more and more complacent with simply growing older, growing fatter, accepting the aches and pains that went along with both, and living the typical adult life of a stay-at-home mom.
Well, I know this is going to sound incredibly ridiculous, but something saved me from that life. And that something was discovering a passion that I had no idea I was even missing. And that passion was football. My very first match to watch on tv from start to finish was the USA vs England match at the start of the World Cup 2010. My husband had been a football fan (Barcelona and Bayern Munich in particular) for several years before this, but he would always watch alone, and sporadically, like when the kids and I were occupied doing something else. So, in an attempt to try to “bond” with him, I hired a baby-sitter and took him to a pub to watch this match. This decision, as silly as it sounds, was one that would alter my life, for now, if not forever!
Without going into too many details, following the World Cup that year led to following La Liga during the 2010-2011 season, which led to following the national team friendlies and qualifying matches, which led to following the summer tournaments such as The Gold Cup and Copa America and of course the Women’s World Cup, which led to now following La Liga, the Premiere League, and the Bundesliga during this 2011-2012 season. So here I am today, absolutely hooked… Even writing a blog about it! One day I posted as much on my Facebook and Susan, an old friend from high school and the one and only friend I had at the time that followed football, responded with “Welcome to CRAZY.”
Man, she wasn’t kidding.
But I’ll take CRAZY any day over the life I was resigned to live before… because I’ve discovered excitement, joy, friendship, inspiration, community, pride, courage, determination, and PASSION ever since I discovered this sport. I know to the average reader, this does in fact sound CRAZY. But if you’re a football fanatic like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Just a little quick background…
I was born an athlete. Not a very GOOD one, but one all the same. My earliest memories are of challenging my older brothers and their friends to sprints in the backyard, despite being 2 and 3 years younger than them (and quite small). I can remember that desire to beat them and make them think, “WOW! She’s really fast! I almost got beat by a girl!”
I don’t know if I ever won… probably not, but I always loved the challenge and the attention it brought me. If I wasn’t racing them, I was climbing trees, swimming, skiing, kicking the soccer ball, or practicing gymnastics in my dark, dungeon of a basement. I started gymnastics at age 4 and continued through high school. Again, I was never good enough to go very far with it, but I competed for many, many years. In my elementary years I played softball and soccer. I also started playing field hockey once it was offered in junior high. So by the time I reached high school I was a three sport athlete… gymnastics, field hockey, and soccer. It was how I defined myself. It was my reputation. It was my identity.
So fast forward about… err… 15 years let’s say… and do you know what you’d see? A sedentary mom, with two children, and no outlet. I chose not to work because I wanted to be home when my kids were young. But, as you can imagine, it was very isolating. Which is fine for an introvert, homebody such as myself. But once the kids started school full time, I realized I was a bit of a shell… I didn’t know where the old me had gone. I wasn’t sure who I had turned into but it didn’t feel like myself. Something was missing. The only friends I had made since college were “playgroup” moms, who I only connected with because our children were connected, not because of common interests. I was bored and growing more and more unhappy. And then, one day, I was introduced to football…
The athlete in me stirred that day of the USA vs England match. Immediately, I relished in the competitiveness of the tournament. Even though it wasn’t me competing, the concepts of sport, excellence, drive, determination, comraderie, the absolute and utter exhaustion after giving it your all… they devoured me. The dormant “me” slowly began to awaken, and I was flooded with memories of “good feelings” from my youth. How did I manage to get so lost? This was where I belonged.
Ok, ok. So this is all a little heavy and dramatic… I also recall noticing Kaka in his Brazil jersey during one of the World Cup matches and thinking, “Damn! I believe I’ll pay more attention every time I see him play!” Shallow, yes. But thank God for Kaka! (hehehe).
So since I can get a bit wordy, I’ll just list the specifics of how my life has changed for the better in some bullet points. But had to give some background first…
- I signed up to play field hockey in a co-ed adult league in my area. I’ll be starting my third season this Spring… and have even managed to score a few goals!
- I signed my daughter up for field hockey and have coached her team going on three seasons now. I also assist with my son’s soccer team when I’m not pulled away by hockey. Together, we are enjoying the love of winning, the joy of scoring, and the challenge of hard work.
- In order to keep up on the field, I changed my diet and lost almost 25 pounds in less than a year. It really was the food that was dragging me down… To further satisfy my fitness cravings, I’ve joined a CrossFit gym and am learning how to become a more “complete” athlete. Lots of self-competition and challenge involved. Right up my alley!
- We turned our toy-ridden basement into a grown-up “football watching” pub… complete with bar, beer tap, and projector screen.
- Because of said pub, we’ve gone from never having people over and being completely anti-social to inviting people over for games about once a month. We’ve held two larger “clasico” parties, and several smaller viewings of other important matches. If we could just find some more fans around here, we’d have people over every weekend.
- I’ve made friends with other football fans from all over the world! Granted, some are just acquaintances I chat with on the internet, but some have become more than that… true friends that I share my secrets with. 😉 As well as some that I’ve discovered right in my own neighborhood who are almost like family when we get together. And also some that I’ve “rediscovered” from high school, that maybe, sadly, I would’ve never reconnected with.
- I’ve gone on REAL adventures… stalked Real Madrid in Philadelphia, stalked Barcelona in Washington, DC, followed buses on wild-goose chases, shook so bad trying to snap pictures of famous footballers, traveled hundreds of miles to Chicago over Spring Break with the intention of watching the Copa del Rey final in a really cool pub, planned (and unplanned) trips to Spain and Germany just so I can experience the excitement of football in Europe… If you knew me before, this is ABSOLUTELY the opposite of my personality. I was never spontaneous nor fun. But now, I believe I can be both. 🙂
- Finally, I’ve reconnected with my husband on a level I never thought possible. We’ve rekindled our friendship on a deeper level, now that we share a “hobby” (lame word for what this is, but you know what I mean), and choose to spend our free-time together, enjoying the same things. We are closer now than I believe we’ve ever been. And thank goodness he’s accepted not only my obsession of this sport, but of some of the individual players as well (uh… can you say Mesut Ozil?). He’s truly an angel where that’s concerned…
I know that you don’t have to be or have been an athlete to love this sport as much as I do. I’ve heard from people that are dancers, artists, musicians… who’ve never played a sport in their life yet love the game. I think we all have our own individual reasons for connecting with football. This is mine, and I’d love to hear yours.
Finally, because I’d like to incorporate other areas of my life in these posts, I’m going to include a song that struck a chord with me as I was on a run today. I’m sure my interpretation is different than it’s original intention, but, to further my point, we all connect with things differently. For me, it says a lot of what I’ve written about here… Plus it’s just an awesome song. Thanks to mygypsyspirit for introducing me to new music. I’ve still got the High School Musical soundtrack on my iPhone. 😉
I’ve tried to be someone else
But nothing seemed to change
I know now this is who I really am inside.
So, enough about ME… Let’s move on to the more important stuff! The football and the ‘ballers that make it happen. 🙂