By Insyirah Iman (21A13A), Captain and Fatema Maimoon (21S05A), Vice-Captain
Have you ever wondered why soccer is often referred to as ‘the beautiful game’?
It could be because of the vital, perfectly-timed tackles executed by centre-backs to defend a narrow lead. It could be because of the brilliant displays of teamwork that take apart the opposition in a few clever passes and dribbles. Or, of course, it could be because of the glorious, glorious goals—the decisive advance forward, the nerve-racking build-up, and the moment when the ball finds the back of the net. There’s really nothing like it.
To us, the true beauty that lies in the game is best appreciated through experience. The death-defying tackles don’t speak for the hours of grit and hard graft during training, the slides in the mud, the scraped-up knees. The passages of play seen during a game are a reflection of a team in sync, built on a strong foundation of mutual respect and communication. And the goals are the products of passion and determination, the collective efforts of a team.
If you’re interested in becoming intimate with all these aspects (and more) that make soccer beautiful, then Soccer Girls might be the CCA for you! Moving away from the captains waxing poetic about how beautiful football is—we have to warn you that while our CCA, as a developmental sport, does not have strict prerequisites, we expect a lot from our members in terms of character.
Attitude is the key requirement that undergirds everything, and is what we look out for first and foremost during trials. Trials are open to anyone who has an interest in the sport, and will consist of simple skills such as dribbling, passing, and shooting, as well as a short five-a-side game—which tests your agility, basic ball skills, game sense, and awareness. Skill and fitness can be trained, but more importantly, potential members should have a willingness to learn and an open mind to advice. Many of our members were not from sports CCAs in secondary school, or have never even played the sport extensively before; but we have one thing in common—a passion for the game, accompanied with an iron-clad resolve to do our best.
A good attitude is what gets us, as a team, through our trainings—which can be quite tough and physically demanding. You can expect gruelling Physical Trainings (PT) to improve your fitness, as well as intense five-a-side matches. Soccer is, at its core, a physically demanding sport, so expect to be pushed to your limits. Hence, a strong mentality is key. The importance of a good attitude is succinctly summed up in our motto “Desire, Hard Work, Believe”.
Furthermore, just like any other competitive sports CCA, soccer is a considerable commitment, particularly due to the need to compensate for a previous lack of experience. Training takes place thrice a week: Monday PT (4:30-6:30pm), and ball training on Tuesday (4:30-7:30pm) and Friday (4:30-7:30pm). While training pauses briefly during CTs and Promos, it continues during the holidays. As a team sport, the individual contribution of every member is key to our collective performance—and thus, commitment to attendance is expected.
Besides the trainings on-the-ground, members are also expected to commit to gaining knowledge of the tactical aspects of the game. Due to the COVID-19 situation and being isolated from the field (and one another) for almost 3 months, our online ‘training’ consisted of watching and analysing videos, learning the theoretical basics of attacking and defending, and spending nearly half an hour understanding the concept of offside. These few sessions, although unable to compensate fully for what Could Have Been, were definitely useful—after all, being an all-rounded football player takes not only just fitness or technical skill, but also positional sense and an ability to read the game.
When told in prose, the commitments and expectations may seem daunting, but rest assured that all is mitigated by the experience and value of being in a team. Over the course of your journey in RI, you will come to realise that being a soccer girl is not merely an after-school role but something that eventually becomes part of you—the support system provided by your fellow girls is something you will come to value more than anything. When times get tough, you can always count on your girls to have your back like a reliable defensive line (see what we did there). The team is a vital part of the Soccer Girls experience. It is knowing that if you shoot way off, the batch will fall over laughing (there is a lot of laughing and rolling around on the grass in Soccer Girls) before reaching out a hand to pull you to your feet. But it’s also knowing that when you’re surrounded by defenders much, much taller than you (spoken from experience), or a pile of homework that never seems to end, your highlighter-jersey-clad batchmates will also surround you with the support you need. When a training is particularly tough—and the four rounds you have left to run seem impossible—completing them alongside your teammates makes it all the more doable.
To be honest, due to the pandemic, our batch has faced numerous obstacles in reaching the level of cohesion all of us were striving for. After all, a lot of us have had less than ten CCA sessions, and we have yet to experience our first friendly match. Despite this, we persevered as a team—the importance of camaraderie and mutual support has never seemed more apparent. However cheesy this may sound, the power of love—for the team, for the sport, and for one another—will get you through the most painful losses, the most tiring trainings, and despairing months of the cancellation of CCA. CCA in JC is short; but like the sunsets over the field that get progressively more stunning every time we train, it is a brief but beautiful experience with memories that will stay with you for years to come.