Saturday, May 24, 2014

Soccer Lessons

Doug, Mark, Darin, Jeff
(Click on photo to enlarge.)
For several years I've been mulling over a story about the state soccer teams I took to England: 30 teams, 13 years, 500 players, and 7 arrests. This story could be framed as a memoir; problem is,  I'm not interested in being the centerpiece of the story. I could see it being a young adult novel not unlike Play On! Small-town kids in the big city of London. Naturally, creative nonfiction would work. I'd narrate but I keep stumbling over how to band the 13 years. Should I focus on a few players or perhaps write about one specific team and bring in the stories from other years?

Now, I'm playing with a multigenre approach that would capture the experience by using a variety of genre like essays, stories, poems, photographs, "This I Believe" essays, syntheses, songs… I like the idea of this approach, and now it's figuring out how to go about it. I think I'll give this genre a go and see what happens.

These photos come from 1984 and 1992. The '84 team, one of my first, played a match on a quagmire of a pitch. We wore short molded-soled soccer boots while our English opponents wore foul-weather studs. Needless to say, we fell down a lot and they stood up… they scored and we did not. Even the referee and our bus driver helped us out in the second half when the score stood 10-nil. You can tell that Doug Watt was not pleased.
Doug Watt 1984

Most of the '92 team sang wherever we went: on trains, in our hotel, on the streets, in the stands at professional matches, and notoriously, in one of the largest Underground stations in London. Some of us were robbed in the hotel on this trip, so the boys concocted a story and drew up signs. They sang in the Liverpool Street Station at the base of the escalators with signs at their feet:
American Soccer Team Robbed. 
Need Money to Get home.

Coupled with the acoustics of the Underground Station singing The Beatles' "Hey, Jude," they were good… the money started floating off the escalators and into the bucket from smiling tourists and pale-faced Londoners. And then the London police appeared…

Maine Team 1992 | St. Clement Danes School, Chorleywood, England

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