On any given Sunday in New Providence, one can find a very diverse community group playing the beautiful game of soccer. Rain, sleet nor snow will stop the comradery of the banter, laughing, screaming, complaining and sometimes hungover individuals who are all deeply connected to the love of the game. COVID did stop us from playing for a few months, but we’ve adopted some strict rules for game play and participation has now continued with great success.
Over the years, the number of participants has grown. We now have two groups just to keep things safer and more competitive. The younger group accounts for ages 25-60 and the more senior group ranges from 55-85. Players are the same individuals who started the New Providence Soccer Club in 1972. Most were either administrators, coaches, volunteers, parents or referees within the club. During my tenure as club president (2008-2017), the soccer club had over 450 kids (K-12) and 150 adults participating in New Providence. We also had a women’s league, which consisted of mostly “soccer moms” that wanted to see what this sport was all about. Let’s just say the moms never yelled at their kids again for not hustling after experiencing playing the game. We are very glad to see the NP Soccer Club continue to flourish with growing membership in order for our children to enjoy a wonderful team sport.
Today, most of us old timers can’t wait for Sunday to arrive. We love seeing one another, asking about each other’s families and simply participating in a sport where teamwork, communication and understanding are vital for success. Individualism and creativity are important in soccer, but that doesn’t get you anywhere without your supporting teammates. As the saying goes, “You are only as good as your weakest link.” For the novice, each team has 11 players (11 links). I usually have 10 weak links (just kidding of course).
We have Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Jews, Buddhists and Atheists who are all working together for a common goal. Every possible skin color is represented. Every sexual orientation is represented. Several don’t speak English, but nobody cares since the flow of the game is a language in itself. Several can barely run, but nobody cares. We are a group of cleaners, tradespeople, doctors, teachers, bankers, farmers, IRS agents, law enforcement, tattoo artists, painters, local business owners, lawyers, engineers, CEO’s, etc... When we start and finish the game, we are all the same. Then once the game is over, we dissect, discuss, argue and laugh (socially distant of course). Some of us can let it go (Europeans), others will stew until next week (South Americans) and some never forget (Italians). Regardless, we are there for the exercise, social interaction and most importantly, to have fun.
For many of us immigrants, we grew up only knowing one sport. For some of us, soccer was a way out or a way to pay for school. Nowadays, soccer continues to bring us together and in these uncertain times, we have something positive in which to look forward. While many will want to dwell on the uncertainty and bleak outlook, we can look forward to at least 1-2 hours on a weekly basis to a break from that and a glimpse of normalcy.
Just a quick glimpse of countries represented by our participants: Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, China, Columbia, Cost Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, USA and Vietnam. I’m sure I missed a few countries, but these are all represented on a weekly basis in New Providence.
On behalf of all adult NP soccer players that are still kicking,
Mohammed Shaheed (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nick Filannino (email@example.com)
In case you have any interest in smelling sports cream on Sundays and interested in joining our groups, please email Mo or Nick for a rigorous tryout.