OverviewSoccer is the most popular team sport worldwide, especially in Europe, North America and South America. From children’s and community teams to select and national teams, soccer is available to all ages and competition levels. Accommodating to all body types, soccer is an excellent and easily- learned team sport for youth players. Soccer is not only a fun hobby, but has great health benefits including improved cardio-vascular health, muscular strength and muscular endurance.
HistoryDating as far back as 3000 years ago, many ball- kicking games have been played worldwide. In China and Rome, games combining soccer and rugby were played, using the inflated bladder of a cow or goat as a ball.The first Football Association was developed in 1863 in England. Football and rugby split and formed new rules, and only eight years later, with fifty member clubs, the first international matches were staged.
Basic RulesEach team must have ten outfield players and one goalkeeper. Games are ninety minutes long, separated by a fifteen minute half, and are supervised by a referee and two assistant referees to enforce the rules. Play is stopped when the whole of the ball passes out of the field of play. If the ball passes over one of the touch lines, it may be put back into play by a throw-in by a member of the opposite team who put the ball out of play. A point is awarded when the whole of the ball passes over the opposite teams end line between the posts of the goal. A free kick or penalty kick may be awarded to the opposite team in the event of an offside, a foul or misconduct performed by their opponents.
Playing SurfaceA soccer field must be between 100 and 110 metres in length, and between 64 and 75 metres in width. Each field must also include a half-way line, a center circle, two six yard boxes, two eighteen yard boxes, two goals and a penalty spot. The center circle has a 9.15 metre radius about the center spot. The six yard boxes must be 5.5 by 18.32 metres and the eighteen yard boxes must be 16.5 by 40.3 metres. Each penalty spot is 11 metres from the center of the goal line. Goals are 7.32 by 2.44 metres.
Players and PositionsThere are four basic positions in soccer: the goalkeeper, defence, midfielders and forwards. There are many different team formations, one example is the 3-4- 3, which refers to three defence, four midfielders and three forwards. The three outfield positions branch off with more depth, for example, the sweeper, fullbacks and stopper are forms of defence. Midfielders may be stacked into a 1-2-1 formation, with one more offensive and one more defensive player. The forward who plays closest to the opponent’s goal may be called a striker.To a degree, each player must be defensive or offensive, depending on which team has possession of the ball.
Attire and EquipmentPlayers from each team must wear a uniform including a jersey, shorts, shin pads, socks and cleats. Goalkeepers must wear gloves and a different coloured jersey. Each goalie, the outfield teams and the referees must be wearing a different colour to eliminate confusion.A team should have pinnies, cones and balls for practices. Other practice equipment may include mini-nets, and supplies such as medical tape, pro- wrap, scissors, bandages, and instant cold packs should be kept in case of injuries.
SafetyTo prevent the injury of yourself and others, avoid wearing screw- in cleats, wear properly fitting shin guards, wear any necessary braces properly, remove all piercings and metal or hard plastic hair clips, and follow the rules.Other health issues associated with soccer include dehydration and heat stroke. Soccer is often played in hot summer conditions, which can quickly dehydrate you or even cause heat stroke, so remember to hydrate properly before, during and after the game, and try to stay as cool as possible. It is also a good idea to warm-up and cool-down properly to reduce the risk of strained or pulled muscles.Soccer is a contact sport, and injuries are bound to happen, so be prepared to treat minor injuries such as bruises and scrapes, to major ones like sprains and concussions.
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