Recently I joined an indoor soccer league. We play on artificial turf inside a big warehouse. You might wonder why Californians need to play sports inside. Answer: Sometimes it is too sunny.
Actually, indoor soccer is about twice as fun as outdoor soccer owing to the fact you can play the ball off the walls, giving the game a new dimension. It’s ridiculously fun.
I joined the over-30 coed league. I figured that guaranteed I wouldn’t be the worst player on the field at any given time. What I didn’t count on is that due to a schedule misfire, my team got lumped with the over-18 league and there was no practical way to fix it because the over-30 league was filled. We knew the younger league would be stiffer competition, but our players are reasonably fit for our ages, so how bad could it be? Plus our women are exceptionally good, and that’s generally the key to winning in a coed league.
On Friday we played a team named Arsenal. The team name was our first clue we were in trouble. Let me tell you how that went.
Before the match I was doing some stretching and trying to scope out the players for Arsenal as they gathered. It was embarrassing having them near our team because it looked like some sort of educational film where we represented the “after” to their “before exposure to toxic chemicals.” They were clearly elite athletes, possibly the products of genetic engineering. While I grunted and strained to keep one leg straight while touching my shin, an opposing player was scratching an itch on his back with his toes. While I was doing a little running in place, knees high, an opposing player was hovering six inches above the ground in a lotus position. He seemed to be glowing.
At first glance I noticed that their women were petite and unimposing. I breathed a sigh of relief until one of them stretched, and her long soccer shorts hiked up a bit. Oh God. Her thighs looked like The Incredible Hulk posing in front of a mirror. I doubt she even owns an automobile. I assume she leaps from one town to the next.
Her ball skills were awesome. During the game I made a lucky guess on which way she planned to maneuver and won the ball against all odds. This miracle lasted about one second until she body-checked me so hard I left a Shroud of Turin-like impression in the wall, except mine was screaming.
The game became the soccer equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters versus seven clumps of moss. Arsenal scored at will, often with trick shots. We ran, they glided. I literally counted the players on the field to convince myself they weren’t playing with too many. I think some of them were holograms but I can’t prove it. It was a massacre.
Before long the score was 12-0, still with plenty of time on the clock. I overheard one of the Arsenal players tell his team “Just header goals from now on.” I guess that was intended to keep us from feeling bad about the score. It didn’t work.
I wasn’t clear if some sort of league “mercy rule” went into effect or the score keeper just got a bad case of carpal tunnel from pressing the button so often, but the score board stayed at 12 while our 60-year old keeper replayed the final scene from Bonnie and Clyde, except with soccer balls. I think we held them under triple digits.
In the end we only suffered three injuries, so most of us will be back again this Friday. We’re hoping to do better, and by that I mean only two injuries.