The Endless Season – Girl’s Soccer – Why It Matters

You know how hot it was. You really had to WANT to be out there. And they did, on baking playing fields which sprawl for about half a mile to the west of the enormous indoor complex south of Rt 30 near Coatesville. Nearly a dozen games on this Tuesday evening, all but one are girl’s matches. A freshly-defeated team files off the field, their coach leading them up an embankment to a vacant spot, where he chides them for lackluster effort. «We have our next shot on Thursday,» he tells them. «Blow it off this way again and you can forget about getting those letters from the colleges. They’ll be using the backs of our programs to write down the names of other teams…»

United Sports Center, mid-February, 8pm:

Three of the indoor matches feature pre-teen girls’ teams. In the adjacent gym of Lightning-Fast, speed-training consultants to professional and amateur teams alike, a petite master-trainer named Shannon Grady, who is also a professional runner, is closing the pro shop when a woman walks in with her daughter, asking to sign her up for the next Speed Clinic. The girl is ten. I ask Shannon how young she’s gotten them. Eight.

Blame Title IX if you wish. NEWSWEEK did, but for other reasons, its venerable George Will echoing a lament that the initiative was a «train wreck» which had shoe-horned female athletes into college sports at the expense of established men’s programs. Boo-hoo! The Women’s World Cup 1999 triumph would have happened without Title IX, the threnody went on, because application of the 1972 legislation wasn’t codified and enforced for well over a decade, by which time women’s sports had already blossomed on their own. NEWSWEEK subsequently balanced their spin on Title IX, putting a dumbbell-curling Michelle Kwan on the cover, and in their «Gamma Girls» cover-story, correctly crediting Title IX for facilitating the emergence of well- adjusted teen girls who weren’t back-stabbing clique-queens or basket-cases. Go ahead, blame Title IX for the legions of Type A parents eyeing sports-scholarship dollars. But if you look a little deeper you’ll realize that this is a small price to pay for the bounties of the girls’ soccer-mania unfolding around us.

Like many of us of above a certain age, I can recall when soccer was an autumn boys’ sport, grudgingly included as a sidelight to football in private schools. You didn’t see «pick-up» soccer games they way you do with basketball or football. And girls played field hockey. As the growth of soccer in this country parallels the growth in women’s sports altogether, it seems as though a junction was unavoidable: no other sport offers all girls the same wide-open opportunities and possibilities.

ALYSSA- my niece, was far less outgoing than her twin older sisters. Small, but solid, she had no team-sport experience at age 10 when I enrolled her in Lionville Youth League soccer in an attempt to open her up. As she’d signed up late, her first time on the field they put her into a game. She didn’t know anything about positions and rules («What position are you playing?» I asked, just before she went in. «I’m a captain.» she said), but made up for it with such agility and aggressiveness the coach was near tears when I moved her on to a traveling team a year later.

She needn’t be big. Or tall. Or strong. She needn’t possess the natural gifts which separate the Mary Lou Rettons and Michelle Kwans from their peers early on. There are no expensive lessons, equipment, clothes or facilities. Give her a few yards of space and a ball, and she can stay busy for hours. It’s democratic, equal-opportunity as can be. Her sport’s not a «girls’ sport» or some other segregated subset, but a universal game, the biggest in the world. And now, like generations of boys before her, she has idols of her own. Some, like Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain, are icons, household names, drawing crowds wherever they go. Some, like Philadelphia’s own Heather Mitts and Lorrie Fair (both of whom are models), are gorgeous enough to be sex symbols. And tough? Oh yes, feminine, but at the same time, tough. Best of all, tough.

FELICIA- another tiny, shy girl, younger and far less physically-aggressive than Alyssa, this dark-eyed beauty had a tendency to shrink from soccer’s inevitable collisions. But she’s on the Phoenixville United team, coached by Stassi Theodoropoulos, himself something of a local legend in youth soccer training. A former professional club player in Europe, Stassi, 54, lives the sport and has an excess of excited energy which he spends in drilling several teams, including the girls’ varsity at the Villa Maria Academy. His work with the Phoenixville United grew them into a machine which thrashed most of their opponents, including some older girls’ teams. And Felicia? She’s grown too, her timidity a distant memory as she now tears into any opponent who comes her way.

There are the school teams. There are local clubs like the Lionville Youth Association and Phoenixville Area Soccer Club. There are bigger organizations like the Intercounty Soccer League and Philadelphia Area Girls’ Soccer (PAGS), which provide a framework for much of the league play throughout the region. All of this adds up to an impressive tapestry growing thicker by the week, and you don’t need to look very hard to see its evidence. New playing fields are popping up everywhere, and on any given weekend or evening you’ll likely to drive past a girls’ match.

Charlestown Park, Phoenixville, October:

Now with autumn, the fields get little rest. Be it Saturday or Sunday, before one game finishes, other teams arrive and are warming up at the sidelines. It’s the same way down the road at Lionville Youth Association. Not to mention at the schools. It’s the same way everywhere. And once the girls reach their teens many of them are playing for both their schools and their league teams. Even Stassi, with all his energy, can’t match that. With the main season in full swing, he’s had to hand off his beloved United team while he tends full-time to the Villa Maria girls. But they’re in good hands he assures me, and he’ll be keeping an eye on them all.

In an editorial I wrote for Women’s Physique World in 1999, I called our Women’s World Cup victory the finest day in women’s bodybuilding: «What else can you call it when the predominant image across America is an ecstatic young woman ripping off her shirt and flexing triumphantly before the entire world, and no one questions it?» A new paradigm of physical acceptability had been launched with these new heroines, I said, «and that’s significant to us because their prominence is forever tied to straining sweaty muddy-specked quadriceps, bone-crunching collision and all-out exertion. It’s raw muscle, shown in function. And thus needs no excuses. Lady-like? Ha! You tell Mia she’s not ladylike!»

Charlestown Park, Phoenixville, early April:

April? That’s right, it’s early April…a raw, rainy Saturday afternoon, but Stassi’s United girls are loving it. The rain and the mud are part of the fun. They’ve just shut out the other team four-zip, and despite the rain they happily kneel on a blanket, clowning for some post-game photos. It’s those other people huddling in the rain who don’t seem to be enjoying it. But that’s ok…they’re just grown-ups. What do they know about fun?

It can only get better. Our local heroines, the Philadelphia Charge, completed another stunning season last year where they lead the league until the final week. We head into this year’s Women’s World Cup with tens of thousands more devotees than were on-hand for the last, many destined for those same fields. They’ll be ramping up the volume on a new generation of superstars who ratchet the standards of physical possibility even higher. The young league-team girl amidst this growing swarm enjoys a freedom her mother only dreamed of, a future unfettered by antiquated notions of physical correctness, sports-conditioning and the limits of femininity. From the mud and dust of her local sward, through the scrapes and bruises of countless collisions, she can see. And she can soar.

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The Modern Football Boots

Choosing the ideal football boots can generate a great conversation. Each player has a most preferred brand and a preferred look. There are players who settle one brand all through their career. Here are yet others who love the newest technology to have an edgy look. There are some players that settle for a specific brand so as to remain relevant or when they have been asked to endorse it.

The modern boots are designed to offer light weight experience. They are designed in such a way that you may think that a person is barefoot. This is done deliberately to protect the foot of the player in a limited way.

The boot is meant to offer your foot protection. In such a way, you can feel the surface of the ball as you play. There is something that everyone should always remember. That is, there is a standard design that is used to create the boots. Sometimes, depending on the material, they adapt to the feet. Everyone has their own unique shoe and we are of different sizes as such, you will realize that the most important boot feature is a good fit and how well they feel when they touch the ball.

The key features

The modern boots get lighter by the day and they allow one to be more flexible and fast. All the great manufacturers have come up with two important designs. There is the lighter and faster range as well as the comfortable and supportive power range. The different style comes with unique qualities as well as benefits. There are some creators who give their new range some obvious names that allow you to know exactly what to expect from the boots.

The best boots are usually technology driven. However, the main features that make a boot be considered as a good one include:

  • The ball grip design: every brand has its own surfaces and patterns on the outer parts of the boot. These are designed to allow you to have better control of the ball most especially when the ground is very slippery. The choice is an individual one but there are many players who love this feature. If you play on wet ground, definitely this feature will work in your favor.
  • Control mechanism: when the boot is light, it means that the materials that are used are actually flexible. There are cases where you will be advantaged for using a boot that is flexible. They are important as you accelerate and you can conduct very quick movements when you try to avoid your opponent. When the shoe fits well, then it becomes like the extension of the foot. You can be able to change the direction very fast.
  • Design of the sole: there are different sole designs available from the various manufacturers. There are those that are ideal for hard ground and soft ground. There are yet others that are ideal for indoor areas. Every sole is unique by itself. The ones designed for hard ground usually have small studs than those for the hard ground. There are boots with thin soles aimed at minimizing weight. These are great to use on soft ground. If you use them very often on the hard ground, you may cause yourself some serious injuries and fractures.

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Oswestry Town FC

Oswestry has been a home for football for as long as anyone can remember, in fact there are no official records relating to when the team was formed but it is a common perception that Oswestry FC would have been one of the first football teams formed in the world … maybe even the first. Originally born as Oswestry United, friendly matches were played on the local cricket pitch against local teams such as Chirk, Ruabon and the Druids, all of which are from the surrounding areas of Wrexham in North Wales. Oswestry United was a member member, along with Ruabon, Chirk and Druids of a league which covered North Wales and the Northern west of England known as "The combination".

In 1876, Oswestry became a founder member of the Football Association of Wales, subsequently entering the first ever Welsh cup the following season. Following the war, the team was renamed to Oswestry Town and they began competitiveness in the Welsh Alliance league Oswestry Town would later move to face different competition in the Birmingham league having been crowned champions of the Welsh Alliance in 1924 and desiring new challenges which came in the face of restructured teams such as Telford United, Shrewbury Town and Kidderminster Harriers.

Spells in the Cheshire League, the Southern Premier League and the Northern Premier League would follow put over time Oswestry Town began to struggle both on the pitch and off the pitch as the finances became strained and debt mounted This resolved in the sad sale of their long time home, the Victoria Road Ground and a period where football in Oswestry was suspended, possibly for the long term. Sometimes fortunes began to upturn with the use of the Park Hall site located on the outskirts of the town. Park Hall was an army built facility that already hosted many different sports in the area including Rugby Union and horse riding.

During the clubs stagnant years the face of football had changed with the introduction of a national league of Wales. As mentioned earlier Oswestry Town had been founder members of the Welsh Football Association and so had the right to play within it's league. Oswestry Town recommenced their football by entering the Welsh Nation League (Wrexham area) and began to clime the pyramid system of welsh football Leagues. Upon reaching the Cymru Alliance league which is one of two feeder leagues to the League of Wales. Oswestry Town won a League and Cup double at the first time of asking. However, sadly they were denied their chance of life in the top tier of Welsh football due to the Park Hall ground not meeting strict stadium requirements of the league. After much funding and contributions the club were able to raise money to purchase floodlights which brought the ground up to the correct standard and another successful Cymru Alliance season in 1999/2000 was met with further financial difficulties which again resulted the move to the League of Wales . This time the financial difficulties were too severe for the club to overcome and Oswestry Town have now played their last match. Football in Oswestry continues, at Park Hall due to the relocation of The New Saints who were previously based in nearby Lantsantfraid.

How to Help Your Child Play Soccer in the World Cup

As USA ends a hard fought World Cup game against the high ranked England, I couldn’t help thinking about my own children playing soccer. How would it feel to have my child play inthe World Cup? How would I feel just to see any of them play on that amazing stage? More importantly, how do I help my children continue to love the game and play at their top level.

So, how can we help them perform at their top level? I will give you the top 6 ways I help my children perform at the top level (while still having fun):

1. The Soccer Boot: Like most sports, soccer should be done with the correct shoegear (the soccer cleat or boot as it is often called). The design of the boot will allow correct functioning of the foot, better traction on the field and limit the most common injuries to the foot. It also facilitates the correct biomechanics of kicking.

2. Shin Guard: Most leagues recommend (and may demand) shin guard use. This is a protection of the front of the ankle to avoid bruising or even fractures to the tibia (shin bone). Many shin guards also provide some protection to the bones of an ankle.

3. Proper Nutrition: Proper hydration and diet eaten 30-45 minutes before warmup can lead to more energy during the game. Proper carbohydrate use and hydration, including electrolytes during the game can lead to a better energy throughout the game.

4. Proper Preparation: As with many sports, the conditioning of a player is imperative. For a regular soccer game, a player will run approximately 5 or 6 miles, so a player should be prepared to perform at this level during a typical match.

5. Dynamic Stretching: A proper warmup involves dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching includes stretching the muscles while moving (running or walking). Static stretching is more common, but usually doesn’t properly prepare the muscle for match conditions.

6. Play To Have Fun: When the game becomes a chore, most players don’t play as well. My recommendation is to play hard, but have fun. It is usually obvious to see when a player is having fun and they always play better.

Using these techniques, my children are loving to play soccer and are improving regularly. I continue to cheer and coach them at whatever level they are playing from recreation to competition levels and now even high school soccer. What a great game for my children! Go USA!

Short Biography of Famous Soccer Player – Lothar Matthaus

His full name is Lothar Herbert Matthaus. He was born in Erlangen, West Germany on 21 March 1961. He is a German ex- soccer player and at this time manager, last managing Israeli club Maccabi Netanya. His playing position in the field is as an Attacking Midfielder or Defensive Midfielder.

Lothar Matthaus is one of the most successful players ever in world football. He began his career in a local club called FC Herzogenaurach. Matthaus made his World Cup first appearance in the 1982 tournament. He played the role as a midfield support player, appearing in a few games.

Lothar Matthaus was labeled European Footballer of the Year and World Soccer Player of the Year In 1990, after captaining West Germany to triumph in the 1990 World Cup. One year later, he was also entitled the first ever FIFA World Player of the Year.

He has played in five World Cups (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, and 1998) and holds the record for the most World Cup matches played (25 games). He won Euro 1980, and played in Euro 1984, Euro 1988, and Euro 2000. In 1999, he was again chosen German Footballer of the Year.

Matthaus is a member of the FIFA 100 – a list of 125 of the greatest living soccer players selected by Pelé.

In December 2002 Matthaus was signed by Partizan Belgrade. Matthaus attained the essential success and his bright moments came in August 2003 when Partizan beat Newcastle United in the 3rd qualifying round to get to the 2003/04 Champions League. Matthaus left his post at Partizan in December 2003 and signed becoming a coach for Hungarianry national team. Afterward, on 11 January 2006 Matthaus signed a one-year agreement to be a coach of Atletico Paranaense of Brazil. Matthaus was signed as coach of Red Bull Salzburg on May 19, 2006 in common with Trapatonni for the 2006/2007 season.

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Arsenal in the English Premier League!

The English Premier League

The British premier league features 20 teams each season which runs for about 10 months. Not all teams have made it to each season. However, some have made frequent appearances each season. Teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Everton, Aston Villa and Liverpool among others have made regular appearances in each season.

These teams have attracted a great following from across the world. Arsenal is one of the teams that have attracted a lot of fans from different parts of the world. Based in North London, Arsenal is considered among the best clubs since it was established in 1886. The club has won a total of 13 1st division titles and the league as well including 11 FA cups. Arsenal has been very consistent having collected very many points in English football. In the 2003-04 season, Arsenal made a club record for completing 49 league games unbeaten till it lost to Manchester United.

Premier league competitiveness

The club has faced a lot of competition from other clubs apart from Manchester United. Every team playing Arsenal has always felt that it is a big task to tackle. Most importantly, any game involving Arsenal and teams like Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Spurs and Everton have always been considered big matches. All the same, the competitive nature of the league has greatly increased over the current years. As a result, every team that joins the league cannot be underrated. Three clubs leave the premier league each season as three others join to replace.

In the 2013-14 season, the club finished fourth place in the premier league behind Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. It was such a competitive season which saw teams like Liverpool qualify for the 2014-15 Champions league spot and Manchester United drop to position number 7. The league has grown over the years and Arsenal has not relented in any way under the leadership of manager Arsene Wenger since 1996.

Arsenal’s current players include Santi carzola, Olivier Giroud,Wojciech Szczęsny, Thomas Vermaelen, Metsut ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Lukas Podolski, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Tomas Rosicky, Laurent Koscielny, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mikel Arteta among several other players as substitutes. Arsenal has capped world class players in the past like Thierry Henry from France. The club has gained a lot of support from different parts of the world because of its style of play. It is indeed one of the best clubs in the premier league.

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