We played last night against Rossiyanka again. We lost 2-0. Our team is down in numbers and down in spirit. It is unfortunate that this group of girls with players from the Brasilian, Cameroon and Russian National teams, have had a season like this. Even though we have some very talented players, our team has not once played like a team. We are segregated, divided, turned against each other and turned against ourselves. Every game we are made to not only fight the other team, but to fight the refs, our coaches, our team mates and in the end ourselves. It is clear that before any game, a practice or at half time… the largest emotion is not passion or excitement to play, instead it is fear. Fear to make a mistake, fear to get yelled at, fear of being pointed out and embarrassed. Fear is driving this team, and it is steering us in the only direction it knows… backwards.
If you remember in one of my first blog posts I wrote that I had felt stagnant at home, I felt like I needed a change and challenge because I was beginning to doubt my love for this game, and if this was what I really wanted to do. And, even though as a team, we have been steered backwards, I can say that being here has taken me forward as a person. I have a new love and respect for the power of simply playing, and enjoying that. The only thing I know I want to do with the next year of my life is to play. I don’t think I have felt like this throughout this experience but now with one game left, I realize that I love this game. Everything that I have gone through here has been because I wanted the opportunity to play, to run around and kick a ball, to score. I think that’s I why I felt so stagnant even at home, I was only working out, trying to prepare myself… but the reason I do all of that is to play. And that’s all I want.
It is funny how much you miss the weirdest things from home after you have been away and exposed to new things. I was sitting in my little corner of the locker room, after I had gotten myself prepared, yesterday before the game looking around our at everyone. I found myself thinking about being back in the Portland locker room and what that was like and how excited I was about all of the games when I walked into that locker room on game day. I thought about sitting on the side lines with the girls I had known since I was 11 at the Rush, mentally preparing to beat any team that came across us. And I realized, as I was watching everyone’s different game preparations that I was in Russia. I know that sounds funny because, obviously, I am in Russia… but every once in a while it really hits me… I am in Russia, on the other side of the world, living in Europe, playing professional soccer.
The Rush (the club I grew up playing for) is the last place on earth you should go play if you need routine or have superstition. Tim Schultz used to let us do what ever we personally wanted/needed for warm up. Some of us would literally sit on our bags on the side of the field until about 5 minutes before the game, do one or two jogs across the field and maybe some stretches and be ready to play. He used to tell us that the only thing that mattered was that we were mentally ready to play. Then at Portland I went the opposite direction. Every week was pretty much EXACTLY the same. Monday off, Tuesday running, Wednesday 3 goal game, Thursday crossing and finishing, Friday game, Saturday recovery, Sunday game… and before a game we sat in the same place (DON’T YOU DARE SIT OUT OF PLACE!!!!!!!), listen to the same songs and sing at the exact same time.... etc.
Personally, I have always been more inclined to follow the attitude of Tim Schultz, although I do think my body needs more than a 5 minute warm up, I definitely don’t need an exact routine to play… but don’t get me wrong, I loved the routine at Portland… but not because I felt like it made me play better, I just loved being such a part of that experience.
Anyways, it takes me about 2.5 minutes to get ready for a game. I listen to what ever kind of music I am in the mood to listen to, I don’t usually like to get “AMPED” for a game, so my playlist is generally something a bit more mellow, but that is open to change if I feel like it. Unless it is unusually cold I don’t wear extra underclothes, like spandex or under armor because I feel constricted… so I only have to put on my shorts and jersey, which takes all of 24 seconds. I put my hair in the usual low-to- mid-head messy bun with some hairpieces that fall out because of the awkward length of my hair. I wear some pre-wrap to pull those pieces out of my face… again that takes all of 30 seconds. My cleats and shinguards take about 1 minute each (if I stop to have a drink of water and a small conversation with the player sitting next to me). So overall, it takes me about 5 minutes to get ready for a game, which allows me a lot of time to watch how others prepare for the game…
Yesterday, when I realized that I was in Russia, I actually was laughing to myself about how different people approach games, myself included. As you can see above, I don’t really do anything… but one girl here has to have the bow on her shorts tied exactly right and tucked in just the right place, her shirt laying perfectly across her shoulders, the tongue of her shoe exactly in the right place on her foot, her shoes tied at just the right tightness and with just the right amount of lace hanging out…
Another girl wears about 10 different layers because all of her joints ache so bad that she needs extra padding and protection, so it takes her at least 20 minutes just to put on all of the different layers…
Some girls stand in front of the mirror adjusting their hair, doing their make up, turning around to see how their shorts look from the back, then re-adjusting their hair. They leave the mirror sit down, get some water and then get back up to go back to the mirror…
So, as I was laughing to myself about this, I thought that I wanted to share the humor with someone next to me… but I didn’t have the Russian words to tell it to anyone around me… and suddenly found myself missing things from home, which is what made me realize that I was in Russia…
My thought process went like this… Look at all these people doing so many ridiculous things…How different people are. I miss the silly things we did before our games on the teams I have played for before... Emma’s salt shaker dance on the other side of the training room, and singing Michael Jackson… that was funny. Man, I miss being able to laugh before games. Laughing is nice…. You know what? I miss being funny. It’s hard to communicate humor if you don’t speak the language. My blog was funny at the beginning, it hasn’t been funny recently… I should make it funnier. But I don’t have anything funny to write about anymore. This is funny though… the way people are getting ready for a game. It’s pretty ridiculous, actually. People are stupid. Haha. I am stupid, look at me, sitting here all ready, an hour and a half before the game just watching how the Russian’s get ready…. You’re in Russia right now. WOW, that’s crazy… I am getting ready to play a professional game, in RUSSIA. That’s wild… O shit! Here comes our coaches… focus…. Hold your tongue, hold your tears… its game time!
Then I threw all my thoughts to the side and enjoyed playing! Even though we lost, I enjoyed myself and I worked hard. And that was a really long explanation of yesterday’s game.
We have one more game left, on the 28th. We play Klubanochka. We can still take 2nd place if we win and Zurkey loses. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Regardless, I am enjoying the last few days here with these girls, being in Russia and most importantly my time with Ximel.
But I do have some exciting travel plans coming up with my buddy!! Don’t you all worry though,.. I will still be blogging, although probably not as much. We will be heading to the Olympics to watch and support some friends. On the way we will be making some stops to see some cool new places. So, expect some pictures!!
Hope all is well back at home. I miss you all!!
Buddy, I cant wait to see you!