Emma Coolen - Liefdesbrief aan het voetballen

‘Dear, dear soccer’: An open loveletter

Dear, dear soccer,

Remember when we met? That I wanted to call in sick from the girl’s scouts every Saturday to watch my little brother’s match, until my parents finally caved and allowed me to join a soccer club? Oh, how amazing those times were. A young girl in a boys’ youth teams at SBC. Remember, those fast twins everyone was so afraid of? And the guy with the funny first name that was so incredibly good? We won everything, as long as he was there…

Remember, how happy I was when my club started a girls’ team? I must’ve been about 12 years old. No more showering by myself in the referee’s dressing room, no, from now on we were all truly part of a team. And the time we won the league, back in the day when jumpstyle was still a hype. That one girl, the first girl I ever fell head over heels in love with, she was there that day. She said to me that I was so good at it, that silly dance. That smile from ear-to-ear didn’t leave my face for three whole weeks.

Remember that in the years after that I neglected you for a bit? I hope somewhere you can understand. As a fifteen year old, I started playing in a team full of women whose conversational topics ranged from pregnancies, new carpet and health insurance. And there I was, stressed about my maths test. To impress them I started drinking, drinking as if my life depended on it, and doing many other stupid things that weren’t exactly contributing to my performances on the field. Sometimes it worked, and I was part of the group for a short while. Usually, it didn’t.

Remember that day in Sweden, when I decided to give it my all in an attempt to become a professional soccer player? I bet you were secretly laughing back then. Oh, look at that dumb, naive girl with her big dreams. She’ll run into trouble somewhere along the way.

And now? Now I’m completely sick of you, from time to time. At those moments I want to throw my cleats against the wall, tear my shirt in three pieces and spend the next half hour crying in the corner. But at the same time you’ve also given me some of the best moments of my life. Ultimate joy, amazing friendships and life lessons that I couldn’t have learned this effectively anywhere else.

That’s why I hope you can forgive me, the next time when I’m angry, sad and frustrated. When I’m being substituted off after a dramatic game, hide my face in my jacket and cry my eyes out on the bench. When I act out on my poor father, who after that also has to taxi me home since I can’t drive anymore due to a supposedly broken foot. And when I, with tears still running down my cheeks, subsequently proclaim that I’m quitting it. ‘It’s no use. Everyone can go to hell. They can keep it, this damn sport.’

Dear, dear soccer. Please believe me, it’s nothing personal. Tomorrow morning I’ll get up, and the world will look like a completely different place. Hold on to me for a little while longer. So that hopefully, in a few years’ time, we can look back together and say: ‘Remember? When I was doubting myself so much? If only I had known back then, that…’

Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂

Emma - Signature

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