How awkward would it be playing sports without games? What are sports without that willingness to compete and win? Does it even make sense in your head? No, it does not. Now, imagine training week after week without that tension of getting ready for a game; most players can even lose their motivation as time passes without any competition. This scenario can potentially be happening on college campuses all around the United States since most intercollegiate competitions were rescheduled for the spring semester. The pressure is now on coaches that now find themselves having to come up with new ideas to bring competitiveness back to their student-athletes.
Chris Swift, the head coach of the Greenville University Men’s Soccer Team, decided to bring back those magical Saturday night games under the lights at Francis Field. The idea was brought to the table in the spirit of “wanting to do something fun with the team and to provide the best experience possible” to those players that have not played a regular game in the whole semester.
The scrimmage, which was planned to be as realistic as possible to a regular game, awoke that feeling of competition that the program staff desired among the roster members. Prior to the event, the team was meticulously separated into two groups that would not even practice together. Edgar Bueno and Pablo Arriaga, both assistant coaches, also committed to a game-like situation by even coaching the teams separately. Tension could also be palpable in between teammates, and players would not even socialize with members from the other team in order to increase the rivalry. After delegating all coaching duties to his assistants, Coach Swift decided to referee the game, keeping the peace between both teams.
After ninety minutes of high-intensity soccer, Coach Bueno’s team ended won the game after a frantic second half. Both groups showed their excitement to be back playing on their field, providing excellent performances, and scoring a total of six goals. It was also a perfect opportunity for those freshman players to show what their capabilities, play against returning players, and compete face to face. Coach Swift also highlighted how playing games like this will potentially benefit the team’s fitness and motivation to deserve a spot in the starting line-up. According to returning sophomore Juan Salazar, “Games like this help us work on different game-like scenarios and determine where players perform the best on the field.”
The level of commitment showed through the players’ behaviors impressed the staff to such a point that they have decided to schedule one more game this semester. This match will take place on November 14th and will also be used as a tool to develop and work on new tactics for the upcoming season in the spring, aiming to be pretty successful due to the team’s work.
Media by José Soutullo Fernández.