Pond Jumpers: Spain

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Just Call Me David Beckham, Jr.

Posted on June 12, 2009 at 10:34pm Madrid / 4:34pm Cincinnati by Jay Larbes

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For the past few weeks, I have been playing (well, trying to play, anyway) “pick-up football” (soccer – but I’ll call it football going forward, since that’s what everyone else here calls it!) with a group of other foreigners who are currently living here in Split, Croatia. My new friend Joel, who Kelly and I met at a free concert performed by the United States Europe Army Band and Chorus*, invited me to play and introduced me to the group about a month ago.

*This was on the Sunday night of Sveti Duje weekend (read Kelly’s Top 10 Sveti Duje Moments for all details!). During the concert, Kelly and I noticed a boy wearing an Indiana Wesleyan hat standing next to us, with what appeared to be his two brothers and his mother and father. Once the concert ended, Kelly was brave enough to introduce us and ask if they were from Indiana, and to tell them that we’re from Ohio!

It turns out that Joel (the father) and his wife went to school at Indiana Wesleyan University. We chatted for a few minutes, and Joel invited me to play football. I was a bit hesitant, because frankly I’m not-so-good, but he said it didn’t matter and that it’s just for fun, so I thought I’d give it a shot! So far, I’m very glad that I did – it’s been a lot of fun.

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The games are very informal. There are about ten to twelve guys who get together on Mondays and Wednesdays at an outdoor football facility. We play for about an hour or so each day, just split into two teams of 4, 5 or 6 and play. It’s very informal, no referees or anything, and we all take turns playing goalie. It’s a small field, so the running isn’t too bad. The facility splits each regulation size field into two smaller fields (basically, sideline to sideline instead of endline to endline) with smaller goals – even smaller than indoor goals – for recreational / pick-up football.

Of course, most of the guys are way more skilled than me, but I haven’t felt too much out of my league yet – hopefully it stays that way! Everyone has been very nice so far – and yes, everyone speaks English, though I’m sure most of the guys speak other language(s). I know that out of the group, there are guys from England, Ireland, France, Denmark and Australia as well as a fellow American from San Diego and a Croatian who also just returned to Split in the past couple of months after living in Los Angeles for many years. Also, I just learned that one of the guys used to play professionally in the US – he apparently has a newspaper photo showing him playing with Pele that others have seen (he’s a bit older than me)!

I hope to make some friends from this group, and think that we will.

5 Reader Comments to “Just Call Me David Beckham, Jr.”

  1. Betty Bone on June 15, 2009 at 3:25pm Split / 9:25am Cincinnati

    Wow, I’m so glad to hear you getting out there. I hope you make some awesome friends! It sounds like fun. Don’t get hurt though!

  2. Aunt Fran on June 17, 2009 at 3:51pm Split / 9:51am Cincinnati

    Hi Kids,

    If you think about it, soccer is really football because you use your feet. Maybe the NFL should change their game name to Handball, since they use their hands and arms more than anything else. Anyway, I digress.

    I just looked at all of your pictures and they are absolutely beautiful. You know, I’m from the old-timers group and I know that you young ones like everything technical, but it would be a shame not to have an album of those beautiful pictures with the names and dates of where you were. What a history for your children and grandchildren, when you have them. Of course, this is just a thought.

    Anyway, I really enjoy the pictures and the sense of history that they represent. A couple of those stone roundhouses looked like they might have been pillboxes during World War II. I guess I’m watching the History Channel too much.

    Anyway, got to go.

    Love to you both,

    Aunt Fran

  3. Alice Kelly on May 18, 2010 at 7:33pm Split / 1:33pm Cincinnati

    David Beckham is my idol and i wish that i was as good as him in the game of football.*:-

  4. Freddie Cook on July 15, 2010 at 5:39pm Split / 11:39am Cincinnati

    i heard that David Beckham is also suffering from OCD.”.*

  5. Grace Rodriguez on October 11, 2010 at 10:24am Split / 4:24am Cincinnati

    Beckham is probably one of the best players of Football, i love every game that he play`-.