I am not a big fan of soccer or the World Cup for that matter, but I enjoy sports. That means at some point over the course of the World Cup I’ll watch a game or two, especially when it gets down to the semifinals and finals.
Years ago soccer was like the vegetable I didn’t like for no reason. As a kid I didn’t like squash because I just didn’t like it. Mind you I hadn’t tasted it, but I still didn’t like it. Well, one day I was eating at a restaurant and I ordered a side dish of fresh vegetables. I finally tried the squash and I liked it.
It was the same way with soccer. I played it a bit during my P.E. class in junior high school, but it never grew on me, and I most certainly never watched it on television. When my daughter was attending Chamblee High School, she had some friends who played on the varsity team, so I went to a few games with her and I enjoyed watching it live and in person. The same thing was true when I started covering Catholic high school sports for The Georgia Bulletin back in 2007. Once I started photographing and reporting on soccer, it gave me a new appreciation for the game. One of the most exciting soccer games I covered was the 2008 game between the girls of Marist and St. Pius X. It went down to the wire. I’ve also covered some intense games between St. Pius and Woodward Academy.
Earlier this week the World Cup came closer to home when I met and photographed Our Lady of Mercy High School junior soccer player Katelyn Longino. The 16-year-old defensive midfielder also plays soccer for a club team called the AFC Lightning in Fayetteville and she’s involved with an organization called Soccer in the Streets. Longino is one of six Soccer in the Street delegates from Georgia heading off to the World Cup in South Africa on June 26. In addition to participating in a 32-country soccer tournament of five on five, the group will attend some World Cup matches. For more information about Longino and her South African sojourn, see Andrew Nelson’s upcoming article on Longino in the June 24 issue of The Georgia Bulletin.
Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer