FALMOUTH HEIGHTS – About an hour after the USA was eliminated from World Cup competition, on a field that will soon be a great viewing area for some of the best July 4 fireworks in America, players of many nationalities gathered for a pickup soccer game.
What could be more American than that?
“The age range goes from high school to me,” said Dave Baarsvik, 65, of Falmouth, who organizes the pickup soccer games on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Falmouth Heights field.
As for the players, Baarsvik said, “The majority are Jamaicans, then Americans, Portuguese, Spanish, Brazilians.”
“In our countries, everyone plays,” said Santiago Trujillo, 19, of Columbia and East Falmouth.
Alex Hotsuliak, 20, of Kiev, Ukraine, “We’ve got Jamaican guys, Russian guys, Ukrainian guys – guys from all over the world working here.” And when they are not working, twice a week they come together to play the world’s game.
“Most of us don’t know each other,” said Prince Blake, 21, of Jamaica and Falmouth. “We’re strangers otherwise, But we’re on field, we’re teammates.”
“You’ve got the whole kit and caboodle of people that want to get together and kick a ball around,” said Chris Martel, 21, originally of the the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont, and now in Falmouth.
And Gary Pearson, 26, of Jamaica and Falmouth said of the game they call football, “You’re connected to the world.”
While Baarsvik was disappointed in the American loss and came to “work out my frustrations,” the players from other countries agreed that Belgium advancing was better for soccer.
“In order to have competition, it was better to have Belgium win,” said Hotsuliak.
Still, most preferred to talk about the game in Falmouth Heights, a sort of no rules, no lines on the field, and no goalie competition that varies from 10 on 10 to 12 on 11, or whatever the numbers allow.
“It’s more fun to play,” said Pearson. “When you watch, it’s drama.”
But getting on the field, he said, “It’s the love of the game, the most beautiful game in the world. You don’t even need shoes. All you need is a ball and people.”
On the Falmouth Heights Field, Baarsvik said, “Once in a while you’ll see a bit of brilliance in here with guys passing. It looks so good.”
Yet Hotsuliak said, “When you’re playing soccer, you need to pass the ball. This seems to be hit the ball and run.”
But all said that the skill level of the game was high. “I want to go pro,” said Delmario Walker, 19, of Jamaica and Falmouth. “These are all bigger guys than me. It helps me to get the strength to deal with bigger players.”
“If you didn’t play before, you would have a hard time,” said Trujillo.
But anyone is welcome, and encouraged to come play, said the players. “If you run hard and play hard, you’re going to get the ball,” said Martel. “It’s a blast. You feel happy no matter what’s going on.”
And Pearson added, “When we celebrate a goal, it’s better than the World Cup.”
— Brian Tarcy