What keeps a community of football kakis together

For almost a decade now, I’ve been regularly meeting a group of secondary schoolmates to play soccer on Sundays. Unlike others whom often have to play with strangers in street soccer courts or arrange field matches, we’ve been able to play amongst ourselves. That’s because we have a sizable number of players, and a large multi-purpose court which we adjust its size to fit our game. It can get as big as 11-a-side  to a simple 5-a-side game.

We used to start our games at 10am, but nowadays people stroll in so late that we can only start after noon. The level of competitiveness has also fallen over the years. Several of the better players have left overseas or simply lost interest in the game. While some new players have joined us, they are mostly in for just a game of “Sunday soccer”.

On one hand, it still amazes me how we have kept a community together for a decade. What started as a love for the game among secondary school mates has not only kept going but become a purpose to meet up and stay in touch. No one is forced to come, every week a group of us just SMS and call one another to make sure we have enough people coming. We’ve also allowed friends of friends to join our game and this has brought in some interesting characters to the team too.

However, such openness and casualness has affected the quality of our game and has led us to question why we come together. A few years ago, we agreed that we came together no longer just because of football but to keep in touch. This was why we resisted becoming a amateur football team that went around challenging other teams. Instead, we played amongst ourselves — some taking it more seriously than others.

But, what happens when the activity that brings you together fails the community? This seems to be the problem our community is facing now. People are coming in simply because of habit. While we also come to keep in touch, there’s no reason to do that every week, monthly sessions will probably be enough. Indeed, a way out seems to be to organise a totally different activity — just a dinner or gathering.

For now, we’ve decided we still like to play our football and we like everybody to stay in touch. We’ve just got to show that we care by arriving on time and taking our game more seriously. It’s been a very important lesson I’ve learnt in community-making. It’s not something static, and no matter how casual it is, communities require a certain level of discipline and commitment to continue to stay relevant to its members

2 comments

  1. lbluewindl says:

    I have made the leap of logic that ‘all’ of the players who have gone overseas are considered ‘several of the better players’ ha.

    For the point about ‘taking the game seriously’, I actually get a kick out of playing with people of varying standards, strengths, and weaknesses. My version of being serious involves understanding these differences and making decisions based on them.

    For example, if there are too many attackers against the defence, I’ll just leave Chengxi free deliberately and go towards him after the ball is sent to him. He takes freaking 5 seconds to control the ball and often misses it entirely anyway. =)

    And on the passing side, I just aim to play the ball that people can best handle. Don’t let Justin head the ball, for example, and most people can’t receive the ball on their left leg. Its awesome when the ball receiver moves completely the way I imagine him to move.

    Oooh I’m starting to write an essay now. I’m also thinking about the fun I have thwarting attacks, and how sucky I am at shooting (but then. that doesn’t involve people, so not as fun). Damn.

    I hope not too many people read this ha. It might become a flame board all of a sudden, primarily saying “shui guan!”

    And keep soccer! I want to play when I get back!

  2. Ben K says:

    haha i lol when i read the part about chengxi. hahahaha…
    I support weekly soccer and I make it a point to go whenever I can. I go not because of habit, but the company. To me, soccer is a medium to get us tog. Of coz i enjoy the sport also, but if it was some other sport, I would most likely attend frequently as well. Somehow getting tog once a week feels different from getting tog once a month. Because its once a week, I think we talk about a lot more things that is more in depth plus bitch about things that happen in the past week..if it was once a mth, i doubt anyone would bitch about something 4 weeks ago. I would think that conversations would be v shallow if we met less often also.and soon everyone would think its a hassle to meet once a mth and attendance would start to dwindle and eventually the activities would just stop. ok shit i just wrote more than TT. haha..

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