When I was young, it seemed like everyone played some soccer in the rec leagues, but as I grew up, soccer took an obvious backseat to football, baseball and basketball. In America, these other sports are more popular and drive more revenue, so in turn, they lure most kids in high school. Now don’t get me wrong, I love watching those sports too, but when it comes to actually playing, soccer has always been at the top of my list. Because of this, I insisted on bringing a small pump along with me and I had my travel companion, Austin, bring a ball when he came out.
By this time, I had been traveling for about a month, and was going through some soccer withdraws. We hoped to play some pickup games along the way from time to time, but we didn’t realize just how easy it would be. Biking around the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya, we spotted a field nestled nicely between some ancient ruins and decided to return when the sun was a little lower in the sky. Upon our return, it took us all of three minutes to kick our ball into the nearby moat.
But not to worry. Thai children from across the water began throwing any object they could find at the ball in hopes of pushing it ashore. In the end, one kid just waded into the dirty water and retrieved the ball for us. After this, we insisted that he join our game, which only opened the flood gates. Within minutes we had ten players on the field and a few small goals set up. The Thai players proved quite competitive and in an instant we were lost in the flow of a game, the way only one sport can do. Soccer, a universal language.