Soccer is over 2,000 years old. In ancient China, soccer was called ‘tsu chu’, meaning "to kick the ball with the feet". The Chinese used a leather ball and had goal posts 30 feet high. The Romans called soccer ‘harpastum’. In eleventh century England, two villages would play against each other; up to 500 people would be on each team. The game would begin at the mid-point between two villages. Instead of a ball, the players hit a human skull; they later used an inflated animal bladder. The game ended when a team hit the center point of the opposing village.
Today, a soccer team consists of eleven members: eight offensive and three defensive players. The offensive players are outside and inside right forward, center forward, outside and inside left forward, right halfback, left halfback, and center halfback. The defensive positions are goalie, right fullback, and left fullback. The responsilbility of the offensive players is to score goals, while the defensive players are to keep the other team from scoring any goals.
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Soccer rules are different from other sports rules. One rule that has stayed the same since soccer began is only the goalie may touch the ball with his hands. Players are not allowed to trip, hold, shove, push, kick or strike any other player on the field. When players break these rules, the other team gets the ball and may be given a free shot to earn a goal.
Each team may have eleven players on the field at the same time. The player’s should be dressed in shorts, shirts, stockings, and cleats. If both teams agree, tennis shoes may be worn instead of cleats. Shin guards are optional.
Players wear the same uniforms as their teammates. The goalie must wear a different color jersey, so he can be indentified as the goalie. Sometimes the team will wear matching socks or stockings, but this is not required. Some people think the selection of socks is difficult, but they’re incorrect; as long as the stockings selected match the uniform and are comfortable, they’re fine.
Good soccer shoes should be lightwieght, flexible, padded, and allow the player to make sharp pivots. Soccer shoes are called cleats because they have rubber or metal screws on the bottom of them. The cleats allow the players to make sharp turns without slipping.
Shin guards offer leg protection. Today, there are two styles of shin guards: plastic-cased shin guards that are worn under the socks and socks that have shin guards sewn into them.
Goalies wear knee pads, elbow pads and depending on league rules, helmets. They also wear sliding pads on their legs, long sleeved shirts, and long pants. They all wear gloves. Male goalies wear plastic protective cups and athletic supporters.
The soccer ball is made of rubber or leather. Sizes range from size 3 to 5. Players who are ages 6-11 usually use the size 4 balls; older players and professional athletes use the size 5 balls. The cost of a soccer ball begins at ten dollars and increases, depending on what the ball is made of and whether or not there are professional soccer player autographs on the ball.
Prior to playing a soccer game, players warm-up. Warming-up wakes up a player’s muscles and gets them ready to play soccer. A couple of the warm-up stretches are the pretzel and the butterfly. Running laps is another warm-up exercise. A popular stretch that works the hamstring is to bend the leg at the knee and hold it up to the backside for a count of ten.
The length of a soccer game varies, depending on players ages. An adult game is made-up of two 45-minute halves. Before the game, the referee calls each team captain to the center of the field . A coin is tossed; the captain that wins the coin toss can either choose to receive the ball or select his team’s side of the field. At kick-off, the team not receiving the ball must be ten yards away from the ball. The objective of the game is to move the ball down the field and score goals by kicking the ball through the opponent’s net. When the game ends, the team with the most goals wins. Every time one team scores, the other team receieves a kickoff. As with other sports, there are some very specific procedures. In soccer, these are called ‘starts and restarts’ and are all related to where players are on the field in relation to where the ball is.
Since the eleventh century, soccer has come a long way. Soccer is played in over 150 countries; in the United States, more young people play soccer than little league baseball. Soccer has grown to be one of the greatest sports in the world.
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