Eudora soccer fans play any way they can
While the world gathers in Germany to watch the best players in the world play on fields of plush grass, Eudora junior Anthony Barta and other members of the Cardinal soccer team gather to play the game the world covets, only on Wednesday nights, the surface they play on is a little more tough, tough as in a concrete basketball court.
Barta, the Cardinal varsity goalkeeper, along with brothers Connor and Logan Hartpence, travel to Lawrence's Holcomb Park on Wednesday nights to play a variation of the game the world will watch in droves.
"We call it street soccer," Barta said. "It's usually a three-on-three or four-on-four type of thing. We tie a bucket at the base of the basketball goal and that's our goal."
The scaled down version of the game was introduced to Barta by former Eudora student Ian Mater and fills a need for many of the students who play soccer to keep active during the long break between seasons, which begin in the fall.
The quick pace and fun atmosphere helps keep Barta and those who play the stripped down game on their toes, but ultimately it doesn't replace the game they all love to play.
"The street soccer is fun," Barta said. "But I'd rather be playing on the field all the time, but this at least helps me practice a little."
The time spent playing "street soccer" also helps Barta and the others meet people who float around the complex or are from Eudora, and perhaps introduce them to the game, even in this stripped down form.
"We meet some people who come along and ask us to play," Barta said. "And we sometimes tell them they can be a starter on the varsity soccer team if you go out there and play."
The game the group plays on Wednesday nights, although not exactly on the field, does resemble many of their counterparts in the rest of the world.
Many players are introduced to the game through the concrete version and eventually get into the more familiar game.
As for the World Cup, played on those immaculate fields, Barta and his friends have definitely kept their eye on what the rest of the world has been watching. Though he has watched most of the game alone, he made Monday's game featuring the United States a bit more of a group thing. Unfortunately for himself and many who would like to see the sport catch on, the outcome wasn't what most would like to have seen happen.
"We got together and watched the U.S. game," Barta said. "It was really disappointing to them lose. But it was even more disappointing to see the way they played. I hope it doesn't change anyone's mind."