Letter: To understand soccer is to enjoy it


To the editor of THE EAGLE:

World Cup 2014 in Brazil is at its midway point and it is already one of the most exciting series to date. Fan interest is at an all-time high as evidenced by the US games breaking ESPN’s viewing records. Yet, as Derek Gentile’s June 27 article "Embrace your inner soccer fan" pointed out, many Americans still consider soccer boring.

His basketball example of a team regrouping their offense added a level of understanding for his friend. The key to enjoyment lies in understanding what you are watching.

My introduction to soccer was in 1948 as a goalkeeper on Teaneck, N.J.’s junior high soccer team. I continued to play for 10 years up through college and a few years of semi-pro. Shortly after moving full-time from Manhattan to the Berkshires, I began a second soccer career as a volunteer high school goalkeeper coach. In addition, I’ve taught "Understanding Soccer," an adult educational soccer course at OLLI at BCC four times, for the purpose of explaining how to watch and understand the game of soccer.

Using the Seventeen Rules of Soccer, including game and training video clips, as an introduction to soccer, class participants easily grasped what to look for in a game. Soccer is a game of anticipation and looking for what may happen in open spaces greatly enhances one’s understanding of soccer. Most sports fans have a basic understanding of ice hockey, which has many of the same basics as soccer.

George Vecsey, who wrote the Sports of the Times column for The New York Times from 1982 through 2011, best summed up soccer; "I don’t know any other sport so beloved by the people who play it, or the people who watch it. Everybody in the stadium understands that at any given moment something amazing can happen, out of nothing."

A helpful guide is my educational soccer web site, www.understandingsoccer.com Work your way through the "soccer rules" link and navigate the other topics as you see fit. Most importantly, your understanding and enjoyment will build with time.



The writer is a National
Soccer Coaches Association
of America certified
Level 1 and 2 goalkeeper coach.


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