One of my other hobbies is football- or soccer as it tends to be called down here. Football is football but in NZ rugby is known as football which confuses the hell out of ex-pat poms.
I’ve been playing since I was 5 or 6 and had one year off when I was about 12 or 13 but have played every season since then- so coming up to 40 years all told!
As well as playing I coach my son’s team (12th grade this year) and also look after our clubs C team, playing and doing the ring round to get players each week (since nobody else would put their hand up to do it). For me the main aim is a bit of fitness on a Saturday afternoon and afterwards have a quiet beer or two with guys I’ve played footy for and against over the past decade or so. C division suits me these days, the fitness doesn’t need to be the same (rolling subs is a bonus) and you get a bit more time on the ball than in the higher divisions.. The majority of players in our division are over 40, so it is a semi-masters grade, but most teams have a smattering of younger guys as well so there is a good mix of ages and abilities in the teams. We’ve a couple of guys in our team in their fifties and in their day were pretty accomplished footballers and can often still show us younger guys a thing or two. Being over 45 now I reckon each week I can get my boots and run round the park for 90 minutes is a bonus and so no longer take it for granted like I used to.
Anyhow, barring injuries I am playing most weeks and still enjoying it. One of the main reasons I am continuing is because I would like to have one year of having my son play in the same team before I retire. He’s 11 now so if I can keep playing for another 4 seasons or so (assuming my knees continue to hold up) then I may be able to make it and get him join us in the afternooons (high school footy is in the mornings). This year he has started training with us to help improve his skills and he is really enjoying practising with the adults (or B and C teams train together) and it’s helping his skills no end. On Saturday we had the bare minimum of players so I told my son to grab his gear just in case. Sure enough, 15-20 minutes into the game one of our players did his calf and left us with 10 players on the field so my son was on- a bit younger than intended. Our opposition were good about it and gave him plenty of time on the ball and didn’t tackle him too hard. The game ended up in a draw. My son had a couple of cracks at goal and thoroughly enjoyed himself. I was a bit worried at first but he played well, dribbled, passed, and tackled as needed and came off beaming. It won’t be a regular occurrence but that was the first time I’ve been in the same team and I hope in the next few years it won’t be the last.