It’s never too late to learn something new. Try to learn something new every day. There’s no harm in trying something once. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. We’ve heard all these and other similar lines before. And it all came together for me sometime in 2015.
As part of our CSR* efforts, IT&E** sponsored several local sports teams – baseball and soccer. As the General Manager for Guam and Executive Director for Marketing, I found it incumbent upon me to meet with the teams we supported. Hence in early 2015, I met the IT&E Soccer team on one of their last games for the season to show my support. Little did I know that (1) Guam had a co-ed masters league too and the IT&E team participated in that; and (2) it would begin my belated love affair with soccer.
Having realized that I was a runner, they requested that I join the team for the co-ed masters league that was about to start. The co-ed league calls for at least 3 females to be on the field at any point in the game and they needed a few more. Call it crazy, call it ignorance, call it whatever you want but I agreed. After all, they said that all I needed to do was run (which I can definitely do), and kick the ball (which I can also do having been a varsity player / team captain for kickball in high school). It sounded easy.
My first game was the first of many – (1) first time on a real soccer field; (2) first time to play soccer; (3) first time to play any team sport after high school. And boy was I in for a whole lot of confusion and fun. I was in shock realizing the field was actually huge and the grass wasn’t real grass! No wonder it looked good. They told me to run, so I kept on running even if I didn’t need to. They finally told me I can actually stop seeing my non-stop running for so many minutes. They called out plays or instructions – Go wide! Go to the line! Cross it! etc, etc – which all seemed like Greek to me. Finally, at a time out, I had to ask the them to explain what all those things meant. And the guys stared at me, and shook their heads. It was hilarious! I was sweaty and in a daze by the end of the game. But I had fun! think we lost that game, but managed to win a few during the season.
Despite that first game, or maybe because of that first game, I was hooked! I played every game for the rest of the season. The team had been playing long enough together that there were no real practices and even if we had, these were scrimmages. I felt stupid in each practice and game but persevered. I longed to have someone teach me the basics, a coach, a team that was just forming.
My wish was granted! Apparently, there was also a soccer moms league and there were a good number of moms from my children’s school playing in the co-ed league for all of us to form our own team. Hence, the Warrior Soccer Moms team was born.
And with it came the husbands, the kids, the whole family supporting the team. We had an actual coach (one of the husbands) and I finally learned the basics. I found myself respecting for the game, trying my best to learn and practice, and soon, I felt comfortable enough on the field.
I must say though that the moms league was much more competitive and rough than the co-ed masters league. Perhaps the guys were being gentlemen to us women in the co-ed league. But it was an all-out female cat fight in the moms league. All in the spirit of fun and camaraderie though.
And since it was the moms league, and the moms get to say what the family does, our games were always packed with our families, with plenty of pictures after to capture our expertise (aka booboos) on the field. It felt humbling, funny, and good being on the receiving end of cheers, shout outs and laughs from our own kids.
I didn’t expect how much I would learn to like and love soccer on that fateful night where I met the IT&E Soccer team for the first time. But hey, it’s a testament to being open to new experiences. It serves as an inspiration for me every time I am scared of learning something new. This old dog has proven that I can learn something new any day, with a few new tricks up my sleeve! And I continue to push myself to learn more new things, have new experiences, and live life more….
* CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility
** IT&E: PTI Pacifica, Inc dba IT&E, a leading telecommunications provider in the Marianas where I was once the General Manager for Guam, and Executive Director for Marketing.
About this post: I wrote this sometime in June 2017, after returning from a vacation on Guam. Back in KL, where football (soccer) is popular, I realized how much I've missed playing it.