Tuesday 5 May 2009

Sport: Common Terms in Football

Since I am going to get lazy and give myself time to prepare more quality blog entries this week, in conjunction with the UEFA Champions League Semi-finals (Arsenal vs Manchester United) tonight in HK time, I am going to upload this entry sooner than I should. And what am I going to talk about? Football vocabulary!

I was never a big fan of football, even when I was studying in primary school in London, I couldn't really feel the enthusiasm of football among my classmates. Maybe we were too young at that time. There was only one classmate who was seriously into football and his all-time favourite team was Westham United. That was the good old times.

I remember that I only played football a couple of times, generally trying to help my classmate Farack to show off his charm by tackling the ball from me. Even if it wasn't for the sake of flossing ("to show off" in US slang), I was not that fond of it and I always took up the most unwanted position of the game, the goalkeeper......I picked up this sport unbelieveably in Singapore, when I first got to know my scholarship-mates John and Preston, who later became my best friends in life. I was engulfed , (surrounded and covered by sth or sb completely) by their love in football, and thus I started to learn a little by little.

It all began with a game against Vietnamese Trio, Nam, Binh and Traom. Binh was the best one but I didn't know their level or mine, so my possession was taken in my first run and ...... and I realised that I knew zero about playing football.Well, enough of the reminiscene /ˌremɪˈnɪsənts/, let's go back to our topic. Apart from the games we played in ACS(I) Boarding School, I also learnt English words from a very dull-looking yet exciting PC game once called Championship Manager, developed by Eidos, now Football Manager, developed by SI Games.

The classic game showed nothing much during gameplay than plain word commentary flashing over the screen. You don't see players, you don't see graphics, you don't see the ball, just words. It was exciting enough for us at that time, and John and Preston could play the game overnight.

The gameplay was not the most crucial in terms of my learning, although the commentary was quite interesting and creative at times. It was the profiles and attribute page that provided rich vocabulary for me.

Right above is the screen capture of the Football Manager 2009 player's profile page of talented Lionel Messi. It does not only provide you with the position he is able to play, but also technical, mental and physical attributes of the player, with 20 being the full mark.

When I play football with the students in the secondary school now after work on Tuesday, they also spoke some English to me, but they had very little idea of the terms we use in football. Here I will provide some explanations of the terms that may have different meaning from those in the dictionary, and I hope that you can learn them too even if you don't have strong interest in football.

Corners -- the ability to take a good corners, part of the set-pieces.
Crossing -- the ability to "bend it like Beckham", to kick a ball that will curve in the flight, a kind of long pass.
Dribbling -- the ability to move the ball forward while running, players like Messi, C.Ronaldo and J.Zanetti can dribble the ball past many players.
Finishing -- the ability to score goals, the final touch, Brazillian Ronaldo was my favourite player in terms of finishing skills
First Touch -- the ability to control the ball well when the player first touches the ball. It is very crucial to any player who wants to speed up their attack with shorter time and better control of the ball.
Free Kick Taking -- the ability to score goals or perform nice passes at the chance of free kick, a fix spot kicking opportunity. Players such as Sinisa Mihajlovic, Beckham and Roberto Carlos are experts of freekicks.
Marking -- the ability to guard the opponent player, who else other than Fabio Cannavaro at his peak?
Passing -- the ability to pass the ball to your teammates, players like Zidane, J.Riquelme and Beckham can pass the ball to their teammates from over 30 yards with pin-pointing accuracy.
Penalty Taking -- the ability to score from the 12-yard point after a player is fouled by the opponent inside the penalty box of the opponent side, my call is Paolo Di Canio.
Tackling -- the ability to kick the ball away from the opponent player, it takes accurate timing to avoid a foul when tackling, mostly a job of the defenders.
Technique -- the ability to play the ball with the feet in a clever way. Many players have the ability to do magic with the ball, as you can see from the TV commercials. So far, the best technique player in my opinion is Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United because he can use both feet and he shows his techniques even when he is playing in big matches. Not ever player will dare to do such thing as the opponent defenders will most likely give them a hard kick to stop them from showing off too much.
Anticipation -- the ability to wait for the ball to arrive at the right spot at the right time. It has to do with the ability to read the game.
Composure -- the ability to stay calm in big matches and be in control of the player's temper, usually the captain will have their composure at a higher level, but not all the time.
Creativity -- the ability to do the unexpected yet great things on the field. Zidane and J.Riquleme once again, but Messi and Iniesta is the new era.
Decisions -- the ability to make the correct move in the game, that will include the timings, the angle of pass, etc.
Flair -- the tendency to attempt shots on goal. Eto'o of Barcelona!.
Influence -- the charm of the player, refers to the leadership, mostly high for captains. My pick is of course, Roberto Baggio, the magician.
Off the ball -- the ability to know where to go and what to do when a player doesn't have the ball on feet. Again, it is how well he reads the game.
Positioning -- the ability to know where to stand and foresee where the ball will go. Game-reading.
Work rate -- how hard a player runs and moves on the field.
Acceleration -- the ability to increase the running speed.
Agility -- the ability to move body quickly and easily while playing. It is how smooth is their movements.
Balance -- how well does a player balance his left and right body movement, his tendency to remain on his feet even when being tackled.
Natural fitness -- how fit the body is even when they are severe lacking in match practice.
Pace -- the speed of running, do not mix up with acceleration.
Stamina -- the ability to last long with the movements and work rate they put in the game. Edgar Davids was called the pit-bull because he never seemed to get tired.
Strength -- the strength of a player when kicking the ball, tackling someone, bumping the opponent players, etc. Legendary players such as Roberto Carlos, Gabriel Batistuta were famous of their kicking strength.

Hope you enjoy the movie clips I linked up and the learning of some football terms!

Picture sources: