Men’s Indoor Soccer League
By Gregory Pleshaw
On your average Sunday morning at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center, the facilities are all a’bustle with activity. On the ice skating rink, skaters glide across the ice with grace and aplomb, while in the swimming pool, youngsters good-naturedly fight for their time on the water slide while adults do graceful laps up and down the length of the pool. Upstairs, spinners spin and treadmillers walk and run. And in the gymnasium at the end of the downstairs corridor, the Men’s Indoor Soccer League is busy sliding across the floor in their running shoes, chasing a fluorescent green ball with the objective of guiding it into a goal on either side of the hard-wood “field.”
“The League consists of twenty teams of between 5-10 men each,” said Greg Fernandez, GCCC’s Program Supervisor, in charge of the Men’s League. “Games are held from 8:30am – 3:30pm every Sunday, and generally between 6-7 games are played during that time.”
In the League, players age range between 18-40, with some exceptions, with many of the teams having played together for between 5 and 10 years. Unlike other league play, where an individual player can join and expect to be suited up with a team, the Men’s Indoor Soccer League requires that teams join the League as a complete team. Thus, many of the players on a team have known each other for quite some time. The cost for a team to play in the League is $400 for the season, which includes 10 games as well as a tournament at the end of the season.
The origination of the game of soccer is shrouded in the mysteries of history. FIFA, the governing body for the game of “association football” which is the formal name of the game, (as opposed to “gridiron football” which is the formal name given to the game played during the Super Bowl) claims that a kind of soccer may have been found to have been played during the 2nd and 3rd century BC in China. Be that as it may, the first attempt to codify the rules of the game came in 1863 in England.
Today, soccer, (or football, as it is known in most of the rest of the world outside the United States) is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players and it is played all over the world. Unlike “gridiron football” which consists of players holding the ball with their hands and running it down the field, “association football” (soccer) players use only their feet to move the ball down the field. (Only the goalie can touch the ball with their hands.)
Indoor soccer differs only slightly from its outdoor predecessor. It has two teams of five players each as opposed to eleven, and game play consists of 2 20 minute halfs with a 3-minute half-time between them. (Official play calls for 4 15-minute quarters.) There is NO slide tackling allowed, because the surface of the playing field (either concrete or hardwood) could mean a player sustaining a serious injury. There is also no offside rule in indoor soccer, which owes itself to the small surface area of play.
The dimensions of the field at the Chavez Center measures 112 X 75, about half the size of the official size of 200’ X 85’ as determined by the USA Indoor Soccer Association. This owes itself to the fact that the gymnasium has been partitioned into two sections, one for Indoor Soccer and the other for basketball on this particular Sunday. Indoor Soccer has been a popular offering at the GCCC since 2003.
On the particular Sunday, two teams are battling it out on the hardwood surface. The Internationals are a group from the Pojoaque High School Varsity team, who decided they would band together and try their hand at the Adult League for the winter months.
“We just want to get ready for next season,” said the Internationals team captain Hector Caldera. “The League gives us an excellent way to practice and get ready for next year. Plus, we all love to play soccer and this gives us a great way to spend our Sunday mornings.”
It should come as a surprise to no one that soccer’s international appeal means that it attracts many new arrivals to Santa Fe and the United States in general. The opposing team for the day were called the Ojo Caliente Zapatecas, all of whom hail from that particular part of Mexico.
“This is our first season to play here,” said Ojo Caliente Zapatecas captain Cesar Bernal. “We were champions in the 2nd division at the Las Campanas tournament.”
Bernal said that all of the men on the team had known each other since childhood in Mexico, and that most had been here for between 8-10 years.
“We’ve all been friends since we were children,” he said. “When I was in Mexico, I studied to be a coach, but here many of us are waiters at Gabriel or Geronimo’s, though two of our number go to UNM to study to become teachers.”
Final score for the game: 3-0, Zapatecas over the Internationals. But there’s always next week – or then, there’s always the tournament.
On your average Sunday, crowd turnouts for the game are somewhat sparse, consisting primarily of girlfriends and relatives. But according to Fernandez, all that changes during the Tournament part of the season, when the bleachers are packed with family and other well-wishers who come to cheer their athletes on to victory.
“Soccer is a very popular game in Santa Fe,” said Fernandez. “The number of people who show up for the tournaments is just phenomenal.”