Just under a week ago, I returned to the soccer field for the first time in 11 years, this time on a team sponsored by my employer. We are a team of players who hadn’t played competitively in quite sometime. We knew it would be a challenge to play up to our standards.
I was part of the starting lineup, which made me joke to a teammate (and coworker) that I would last about 30 seconds before calling for a sub. In reality, it was about 2 minutes and I was COMPLETELY gassed. Sitting on the bench, I could barely catch my breath. Completely out of shape for cardio exercise.
One thing I found is despite a 11 year layoff, I still had my sense of position. Playing my natural position of striker, I found I could still anticipate the play developing and get in the right spot, causing all sorts of havoc on the other team’s defense. The problem was my timing: I always seemed about 1 step too slow. Not sure how much of this was my reaction time due to not playing, lack of endurance, or age, but it frustrated me to no end. Speed was a vital part of my game in high school and not being able to sustain that speed other than short, infrequent bursts really got to me.
We won the game 3-2 and I’m very proud of how the team played. With no one in soccer shape, we did an excellent job passing the ball and getting back on defense. Our pressure on the other team resulted in many opportunities. I also got sick at the end of the game…no pain, no gain!
I have no doubt that once I get into better shape I will be able to contribute some goals to the scorecard. It felt good to get on the field again.