Right now I feel like I’ve just run ¾ of a marathon. My legs and body ache but I can still do stairs, which is why I say ¾. This past weekend was the All Japan ALT Soccer Tournament, held in the mountains of Sugadaira, Nagano. There were 16 Men’s teams and 9 Women’s teams that showed up from all over Japan. Niigata represented with a strong men’s team and a total beginner woman’s team (except for the pro, Courtney). The group I carpooled with, Janelle, Yolanda, Laura, and Lauren stayed in Joetsu with Sam on Friday night and then continued the journey to the BEAUTIFUL Mountains of Nagano on Saturday morning.
Courtney and Janelle attempted to give us the basic rules and points we needed to know about playing ‘football,’ like don’t use your hands, how to throw a ball in, and offside rules. We were scheduled to play 4 games and referee 2 on Saturday to make the seeding for Sunday. I’ve decided that refereeing is the worst possible job on the face of this earth, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing but I fell in LOOOVVEEE soccer!!! Seeing as our first game was also our first time playing together, we weren’t too beat up loosing 0-7. Many of the participants come from countries like Britain, Ireland, and Australia yelling and cussing using funny ‘football’ words that we were just like ‘huh…???’ The second game we lost by less and were ecstatic with how much we had improved. We actually scored in the third game and ended with a TIE, and couldn’t be happier. Then we found out that our final game of the day was against one of the strongest teams. We rocked the first half, holding them only to a couple goals and then all but gave up second half. We were SOO exhausted and looking forward to the onsen, fancy hotel meal, and party that night!! One of the onsen tubs was outside in the cold, which made the hot water feel sooo relaxing. The party was SO much fun, dancing and meeting people from ALL over!! Not only from Japan, the US, Britain, Ireland, Australia, but also Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and on and on!!
Everyone was hobbling the on Sunday from the previous day’s events, but up and ready for the next round of games. Niigata girls were seeded 8th, and only played at 83%. We ended up tying in the sudden death tournament, which meant that the game would be decided with a shoot out and darn it, we lost (which meant we were done running around on super sore legs and could sit and relax and watch the boys play in the middle of beautiful mountains for the rest of the day J). The boys were SPECTACULAR and wound up placing 3rd overall. GREAT tiring but FANTASTIC weekend, and I can’t wait until the next tournament in June!!!