My body hurts and I expected it to after my first full game of soccer since about 1997. I have no desire to play again but that isn’t because it wasn’t great fun. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and despite going down 2-1 and the match feeling like it took half a day I think I learned something about how to compete hard but not lose the inner satisfaction of playing your best.
I’m not in my 20’s anymore and that did frustrate me somewhat. I missed having speed and acceleration to burn and sprinting probably looked like ambling quickly. Thankfully some of those deeper skill programmes didn’t let me down. My legs began hurting and I could feel the strain on my hip flexors as they worked overtime. Wet socks rubbed decent sized blood blisters on my big toes and when I finally got to sub off for a while I really wasn’t sure if I would get up from the bench.
But what did get better with age was my ability to suck it up and get over myself. I knew my legs had thrown a little white flag up near the 60 minute mark and I accepted that I needed to play smarter not harder. What you don’t lose is the feel for the game, the awareness of positional play.
Refracting my life through this experience then it reminds me of where I am at with relating to other parts of myself. That you can run around covering lots of ground in life but not actually doing much. Learning to read the contexts and positions of others well enables me to shift the play and see the gaps. Sometimes a simple through ball might not go directly to someone but it opens space for others to move into.
I like this style of play – there really are some benefits with age that are underappreciated. Now to lather myself in anti-inflammatory cream.