It’s kick-off time – celebrate with some great soccer books

FIFA U-20 World Cup TrophyThe FIFA U-20 World Cup has kicked off and will run until 20 June. Quite a few of the games are being played in Christchurch so you could even get along to watch a game or two.

The tournament is held every four years and there are teams from all over the world competing, including Hungary, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Honduras, Brazil and of course New Zealand.

We have heaps of books in the library about football (or soccer as it widely known), from learning how to play the game to stories about soccer.

To find more about soccer try these:

For more information about the FIFA U-20 World Cup see their website.

The Beautiful Game at your Library

New Zealand Army Soccer TeamMy introduction to football (soccer) was a bloody one. Back in April 1971 Mum signed me up for Burndale United (now called Burnside).  The first game of the season took place at Burnside Park on a sunny Saturday morning. Mum joined the other parents on the sideline as her skinny seriously dis-coordinated 7 year old son took to the field. Several minutes into the game, I was lying flat on my back with blood gushing out my nose. My face had taken a direct hit after a player from my team had kicked the ball hard into my face.

Despite this eventful introduction to football I continued playing well into my adult years. And some. As someone who has been closely connected to the football community I’ve noticed that many players and coaches learn the game only on the field. But there is also much learning to be gained from another source: Your local library!

The library offers some fantastic resources covering all aspects of football. Here you can find books on the rules of football, tactics and strategies, improving individual skills and techniques, the art of coaching, biographies about famous footballers and more.

Search the catalogue for Ryan Nelsen's road to the World Cup Search the catalogue for Soccer Beyond bend it like Beckham

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Glenn
Central Library Peterborough

The beautiful game – in our own backyard

CoverThe annual Global Football Festival is a Christchurch celebration of the worldwide appeal of the beautiful game. This weekend and next, teams from different cultures living in Christchurch  will battle it out over three days of keen competition.

I’ve been to this event a couple of times over the years, and there’s always a relaxed, festive  atmosphere. Think a mini World Cup, but without the mind-numbingly loud vuvuzelas. The food stalls are pretty good too.

This year the eighth tournament will be played at a new venue, Linfield Park on Kearneys Road.

What good are the arts?

Featuring John Carey (What Good are the Arts?), Denis Dutton (The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution), and Sarah Thornton (Seven Days in the Art World), Friday’s What good are the arts? session has left me with questions rather than answers, and so in the spirit of giving I’m passing them right on to you.  Please also bear in mind that my own educational background has taken the literature, libraries and psychology route, rather than the fine arts and high culture route, and that my current heroes include a lurching zombie and a man wearing an iron suit.  Oh, and check out the Friday night audio wrap-up to hear me possibly insulting one of the world’s best and brightest experts in the art world.  I am on fire here.

Here are a selection of some of the questions I wrote down.  Some are comments from the speakers, some came from the audience, and some are just my own little musings.  Ready?

1.  Is there a rule that art critics and art writers can only use words of more than 5 syllables, all of which must end in -icity, -osity, -ality or -ism?

2.  Is calling someone a neuroaesthetitian a compliment, an insult, or a job description?

3.  If, as the Auckland Festival says, Ideas Need Words, does that make literature the highest form of art?

4.  Can anyone, in fact, claim that there IS a highest form of art, or is all art appreciation an absolutely solitary and individual matter of personal taste?  In other words, are there, as Denis Dutton says, universal and cross-cultural eternal values, or is it the case, as John Carey posits, that “you cannot be another being”, thus making it impossible for anyone to pass judgement on anyone’s taste?

5.  Is there a a shop where you can buy paisley cravats and smoking jackets?  And if so, can someone take me there right now?

6.  If the purpose of art is to make us better people and to draw us closer together, does that make football a higher form of art than painting or poetry or sculpture?

Well, people?  I just know you all have ideas and opinions about these questions …  (Just please don’t get all shouty at me.)

Global Football Fever

Christchurch is in the midst of global football fever. This coming weekend the finals of the Global Football Festival take place at Bexley Reserve.

Supporters from many cultures will crowd the touch lines to cheer on their teams. Delicious ethnic food stalls will help to keep the fans fed throughout the day. The passion that football generates around the world in widely different cultures will be on full display.

About the only thing that probably won’t be happening is the Kiwi football fans’ tradition of stripping off their shirts when their team is winning. For demonstrations of this you can tune in to the semi finals of the A League where the Wellington Phoenix will go head to head with the Newcastle Jets at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington. (An event leading to dreadful headlines like “Phoenix sure to rise at Cake Tin” !).

If you are a football newby we have some great books in our catalogue – try Nick Hornby’s little classic Fever Pitch for a look at serious football fandom.

I went to an all boys’ school. Every one of us stank.

That’s a quote, and quite possibly the most accurate description of a New Zealand school experience I’ve ever read. It comes from the pen of Christchurch’s Ryan Nelsen. The All White and Blackburn Rovers defender proves himself to have quite a turn of phrase in A Beautiful Game: football through the eyes of the world’s greatest players.

Collated by English football writer Tom Watt, this  collection of memories and cultural snapshots delves into the stories of how some of the biggest names in the game started out, explores their childhoods and what football meant to them. It puts a very personal and intriguing angle on the world’s most professional game.

Organised into sections like hope, family, dedication, passion, flair and courage, the book gives a real insight into why football inspires devotion from legions of fans. The photographs are stunning and show people playing football on beaches, arid deserts and streets in places as diverse as Baghdad, Liberia and Cambodia.

For Nelsen it’s a story that takes him from Spreydon Domain to the World Cup finals – and its fantastic that a Kiwi features in a book like this. His story illustrates perfectly the opportunity  and the dream football represents for millions of people around the world. I’d recommend it if you’ve ever wondered why blokes like sport so much. If it whets your appetite, there’s plenty more football resources available online or at your library.

Do you have memories of Big League Soccer, late night F.A. Cup finals or stinking out the classroom after lunch-time battles like Ryan Nelsen? Or were you more of a sportophobe?

Exposure

Sport? Never interested. Shakespeare? Sometimes interested. Celebrities? Always interested. So a book about sport, with a plot based on a Shakespeare play and featuring a couple very similar to David and Victoria Beckham put me in something of a quandary.

On the one hand books about sport make me feel faint with boredom. On the other hand a book where Posh and Becks-like characters fall victim to several of the deadly sins has got to have something going for it.

And so it proved with Exposure, a Young Adult book with something for everyone. Mal Peet writes about soccer well enough to make it exciting to someone who regards not following sport as something of a badge of honour and he’s no slouch at building suspense in a part of the story that’s concerned with political corruption and homeless children. He can even handle romance – the doomed love story of Otello and Desmeralda is believable, romantic and sad without being soppy.

I’m so impressed I’m going to check out his other books – this could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Peet’s a definite must see at this month’s <a title="Mal Peet, appearing at this year's Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.