The game that brings the world together.
With more than three billion fans and 265 million players, soccer (aka “football”) is the world’s most popular sport. Perhaps that’s because there’s no offseason and you don’t need much to play (a ball and enough space on just about any surface). But most of this has to do with a universal love for a beautiful game.
In a city where nearly one out of ten residents have come from around the world, soccer brings together different communities for friendly, intense competition: the Ukrainians in the Northeast, the Liberians and Mexicans in Southwest Philly, and the generations of locals who grew up on soccer. Whether you prefer greater technical proficiency to a more physical game, possessing and passing the ball rather than kicking and running to it, you’ll find all kinds of playing styles in action during all-day neighborhood tournaments.
But don’t just watch, come join one of Philly’s many adult soccer leagues, including the largest, the Casa Soccer League. Work on your ball skills to make both feet dominant. Find a spot to kick against a wall to get your confidence on the ball up. Get a friend to practice passing and shooting. And whenever you can, run, because playing soccer means basically sprinting up and down a field for a long time. Remember to win, just get the ball into the net without using your hands. Heads, however, are allowed.
Size and shape matter a lot less than agility, speed and stamina. Just look at Lionel Messi, the world’s best soccer player, also known as La Pulga (the little flea). Beyond the physical gains you’ll make through soccer, you’ll also make friends. Like any team sport, play to each other’s strengths. Then afterwards, take in a Philadelphia Union game.