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Soccer Through the Eyes of the Experienced – samantha

I was lucky enough to be able to interview my current roommate and childhood best friend, Olivia, about her life experiences with the game of soccer. We sit across from each other in our tiny dorm room, thinking about how she’s going to recall 16 years of soccer to answer the questions placed in between us. We begin to record, trying to collect ourselves so that we don’t laugh for every question asked. I get to hear about the literacy of soccer, the sponsorship that she had received, and her personal thoughts throughout her time of learning and playing the sport.

Considering soccer to be a form of literacy shows the difference between our life paths within literacy. We share many of the same life experiences because we grew up together, and this is something that makes this a unique interview. We have received the same amount of teaching in school such as basic reading and writing in English and even the same amount of years in Spanish class. But when looking at things that we have don’t have in common, being literate in soccer is one of them. Ever since Olivia was a child, she had received the sponsorship to learn the literacy of soccer, and I did not.

Olivia was one to play soccer whenever she could. Soccer was a sport that she played since she was two years old, and she is currently 18. Being put into a little league, making her way up to the club teams. She couldn’t recall ever making the decision to join a soccer team because of her young age, but rather her dad was the one that “pushed” her into it. Using the word “pushed” was not the exact feeling that Olivia had felt, she explained to me that she knew, because she was so young, there was no other way to get a kid to start sports. This was a realization to her, that “push” was a sign of sponsorship from her dad. She had stated that: “[she] definitely consider[ed] [her] coaches as being sponsors for [her]” which would be a normal assumption that the coaches teaching the sport are the sponsors.

In Olivia’s case she had multiple sponsors that came to mind, and that’s what formed importance for soccer: “since [her] dad was there, number one, [she] would definitely still put him number one for [her] sponsor” and she was also “[her] own sponsor.” In Olivia’s situation she had experienced lots of sponsorship from everyone around her. They acted as a push to play better, support to keep going, and as an acknowledgement of her potential. These were great forms of encouragement that everyone should get when learning a new literacy.

Soccer was a passion for Olivia. Growing up and playing “there was never a time, that [she] can remember, that something just clicked” causing her to realize that she loved soccer, “[she] just loved soccer; it was always something that [she] did.” Soccer was a normal thing in her family and the people she was surrounded by also had that type of outlook on soccer. They were raised on it and that was their lifestyle

“There was never a time, that I can remember, that something just clicked. I just loved soccer; it was always something that I did.”

Being surrounded by that much support can also turn into something more, it can be translated into an unwanted pressure. That was something that Olivia had experienced occasionally, because that constant pressure caused her to question whether it was what she wanted to do. Even being aware of the dangers of soccer and the fact that being on a team with boys had taught her aggressiveness. That results in a dangerous game, causing multiple injuries that resulted in very severe problems. In her situation causing things such as anterograde amnesia after receiving a third concussion, leading to three weeks of missed school.

Being literate in soccer means that you can understand the terms used when someone is describing the actions of the referees and the positions that each player is in. When interviewing Olivia, she had tried her best to explain what some terms had meant. When we had moved onto talking about positions in soccer she struggles to explain each position because she knew them as numbers that depended on their ”formations” such as a “four two three one.” Some teams went off of other things but ”[her] team went based off of numbers” like the ”number nine or a false nine“ and that meant that position was a ”forward.” These were hard for her to explain because each explanation needed a follow up explanation, making this part of the interview reveal the expertise in soccer literacy. I had asked her about fouls and the response that I had gotten again shows how simple soccer terms are to her: ”fouls are a part of the game,” she even said she ”didn’t know how to explain it,” and they are so “basic” to her, that “fouls are against the soccer laws and the referee just blows the whistle and stops the ball and the other team gets to kick it.” She struggled to explain what they are because it is a term used regularly like her normal use of English. Anyone who speaks fluent English will struggle to explain the definition of what a word means when the word is so “basic.”

Throughout the whole interview we had gone through Olivia’s thoughts and views of her past with soccer. We finish off the interview with some of the soccer terms and my own attempt to try and understand them. We end the recording and sigh in relief because we made it to twenty minutes without laughing or screwing up. It was our big accomplishment to be able to speak about Olivia’s soccer past along with a helpful amount of knowledge. There was an extensive amount of years that she had to go through to get to her true feelings and it was a good conversation covering topics we have never really bothered to go over.

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