9 Things Every Soccer Lover Should Do Before They Die
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We all love the beautiful game, but, let’s face it: some of us want more from our passion than the occasional 90 minutes of fun on our favorite couch or chair. We made this bucket list for those of you suffering from a more adventurous disposition.
If you want to get out and see the best of what soccer has to offer, and the thought of not doing so is physically unsettling, this list is for you. So, without further ado here are the 9 things that every soccer lover should do before they die.
#9: Play A Game On Panyee FC’s Floating Pitch
…or glorified dock, as it were. Panyee FC is located in the fishing village of Koh Panyi in Thailand. Ko Panyi is quite small, with a population of 1,685 people who, according to Wikipedia, all descended from two seafaring muslim families from Java. But hey, that's Wikipedia, so your guess is as good as ours. Oh, and it's also built on stilts out of the sea.
This seaworthy pitch was originally built back in the 1980s when a bunch of enterprising youths from Koh Panyi decided that they would like to play soccer, but realized they had nowhere to play. They built a floating pitch, practiced the game they love, entered a mainland tournament, and FC Panyee was born.
This short film nicely documents the story:
FC Panyee’s floating pitch has to be one of the coolest pitches in the world. We can just image how awesome it would be to play an intense game with a bunch of our buddies against some of the locals, and then diving into the water afterwards to cool off (or to retrieve the ball many, many times we would guess). After it all, we would eat a seafood dinner to end all seafood dinners, and then take a picture on that unforgettable pitch to commemorate the occasion
Best. Profile Pic. Ever.
#8: Train With The Worst National Team In The World
You may be asking yourself, “why would I want to do anything with the worst at anything, in any area, let alone the world.” We understand your confusion, but please, bare with us.
American Somoa is currently ranked 200th in the world by FIFA. Is that dead last? No, but we’d say America Somoa has done enough to earn a spot at the very, very bottom of the totem pole by suffering the worst defeat in the history of international soccer against Australia in 2001. What are a few places off last when your team previously set the gold standard for failure?
Ok, ok, you’re probably still wondering why you would want to train with the team that was beaten 31-0 by Australia. Our riposte would be, why would you not want to train with the team that was beaten 31-0 by Australia. Andorra and Eritrea and 7 other countries you couldn’t find on a map may all be ranked lower, but every time America Somoa steps on the pitch the history of that failure steps out with them.
Literally every time they play they know they might set a new world record for failure, they’ve done it before, and they go out and play anyways. There is nothing more inspiring than that. Getting the chance to train with such a team is a life changing experience, the kind of thing Hollywood makes movies about. Or, more specifically, documentaries:
That’s why you should train with American Somoa.
The next time you find yourself hitting the snooze button 1,2…9 or 10 times, caught in disbelief that another day has come and, yet again, your life still sucks, you will be able to think back to your days training with the world’s worst soccer team.
You will realize that, yes, your life may be hard, and you may not be very good at anything at all right now, but that’s no reason to give up. It’s not like you are about to set a world record for failure…we hope.
#7: Attend El Clasico
We go from the worst in the world to the best, and if you plan your itinerary accordingly, so can you.
What is there to say about El Classico? For those not in the know, an El Classico occurs every time Barcelona and Real Madrid play each other, but there is so much more to it than that.
Remember that moment when you realized that the worst player on the worst team in the Premier League could dribble past the entirety of whatever team you play on, and lob the keeper from 30 yards out? Well, that player had a similar moment with the players of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
These are the gods of soccer. Guardiola’s past Barcelona and Ancelotti’s current Real Madrid are arguably the best teams ever assembled, and the world should curse its luck that it never got to see them play one another.
El Classico is not just the pinnacle of play on the pitch, it is home to the best atmosphere in the world. Every game is a life event. These teams hate each other. Their fans hate each other. More often than not, the coaches hate each other. But everyone loves the game.
When a goal is scored, the stadium doesn’t so much celebrate as it participates in a communal face-melting roar.
Listen! Listen to the fans before this recent El Clasico. You need to be in this crowd once in your life!
We rest our case.
#6: Follow A Player Throughout Their Entire Career
Soccer as a sport depends on its players. So why should being a fan be any different?
Having a favorite team is awesome. It gives you something to look forward to, a bright spot in your day. But having a favorite team pales in comparison to having a favorite player.
We are not talking about someone whose stats you have memorized. No, we mean a hero whose every touch you pay attention to. Every missed pass has you holding your head and every close shot has you clapping your hands in encouragement. These are signs of true engagement, and that’s why you should follow a player throughout their entire career.
Find some one that interests you. A youngster, perhaps, but don’t feel the need to preclude others simply because of their age. The reasons why you pick a player to follow are yours and yours alone. You’ll know if you made the right choice when all of the sudden, soccer is no longer a game, but a saga of epic proportions.
Will your favorite player win trophies? Will they play well when they break up with their significant other? Will they bounce back after that devastating loss or horrific injury? Pretty soon, you will start to wonder if you picked the player, or if the player picked you.
Just be prepared for when your hero retires, it just may be one of the most moving experiences of your life.
#5: Watch A Game With The Pope
The most bucket-list-y thing on this bucket list just might be the hardest to pull off.
If you were not aware, the current pope, Pope Francis, is an avid Argentina soccer fan, as well as, you know, the holiest person on the planet. That later part is what makes this hard, but it is also what makes it worth it.
Let’s just assume that we somehow have access to one of the most guarded people in the world for a moment.
We would love to watch Brazil vs Argentina with Frank - er, His Holiness - and just see how he reacts to everything, what his game day routine is. Would he take the Lord’s name in vain if Argentina got annihilated? Would he bless Argentina in order to give them the favor of God? Does he secretly hate Neymar’s haircut? The answer to all of these questions is probably “no,” but you never know, and that is why this is on our list.
#4: Coach A Youth Soccer Team
Ah, the joys of youth. The energy, the bliss, the longing for candy and soda and hot dogs. All of it can come together in the form of a youth soccer team.
Assuming you can handle all the energy, and can provide enough candy, soda, and hotdogs during halftime and after the game to ensure their bliss, coaching children can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
It allows you to be a role model and a leader. You won’t exactly be a stoic leader of men, but who cares?
It’s entirely possible, but extremely unlikely, that you could be like this guy, and end up coaching the child that turns into the greatest player in the world. Not many people can say that, can they?
Tell us that is not happiness and pride personified. We dare you.
#3: Start A Stadium-Wide Chant In England
Talk about legendary. You wouldn’t necessarily have to perform this feat in the Premier League, but if you could secure some of its impossibly hard to get tickets, and you did manage to start a chant, you would be awesomely close to “Most Interesting Man in the World” status.
That said, any of the lower leagues would also be immensely satisfying. And if we do say so ourselves, starting a chant for, say, fourth tier AFC Wimbledon has a certain charm to it that just isn’t there for certain big-time clubs.
We’re looking at you, Chelsea.
As for what you’ll be chanting, that’s up to you. You could call upon an old classic, or, if you’re really ambitious, you could make up something new. We’d advise you to always take into account your location. As you might guess, soccer stadiums are a stickler for tradition and culture, so choose your chant accordingly.
#2: Travel to a World Cup
With what we’ve been hearing about Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022, you might want to wait on this one. Still, the World Cup is the ultimate sporting event on the planet, and every person who even remotely enjoys the game of soccer should attend one once in their lives.
The intersection of cultures from all over the world that happens at every single World Cup is unlike anything in the world, save the Olympics. However, the World Cup has the added advantage of unifying its followers under the flag of a single sport.
Literally everywhere you go in a country that’s hosting a World Cup, you can talk about soccer. Even if you don’t speak the same language, you can cheer and boo and take in the sport you love with people who you would normally never meet, but are your brothers and sisters for a month nonetheless.
It’s like summer camp for adults with beer and soccer and festivities the likes of which you are likely never to experience again. Unless you go to another World Cup, that is.
Hey, we didn’t say there was a limit.
#1: Kick A Ball Around With Your Hero
Liverpool fans have Steven Gerrard. Barcelona fans have Lionel Messi. Who you have is completely unique to you, but anyone who can call anyone their hero deserves to knock a ball around a bit with whomever that may be.
Imagine running through on goal courtesy of a perfectly placed Pirlo pass, or being able to say that you saved a shot from Cristiano Ronaldo, or dispossessed Lionel Messi. Were those last two really trying? Probably not, but no one has to know that.
Plus, you’d be able to pick the brain of your hero with whatever questions you’d like, from what’s their ideal breakfast to who they think will come out on top at the end of *Game of Thrones*.
Personally, we totally think Pirlo is rooting for Khaleesi, but that’s just us.
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