The World Cup is in session. The bloods of football fans above the world are rising both in the short-term and medium-term. National anthems are being sung with a fervor the extent of which has never been reached in a very long time. World Cup celebration is complete in all aspects, including the more reflective ones - for instance, names of football players are being googled at a rate that has not been seen in a very long time. Last but not the least, the soccer teams are almost thoroughly white. Despite such, there is strong evidence for skepticism as to the 'whiteness' of the sport - particularly with regards to its origins. This article explores such points for skepticism - read on!
Contrary to popular belief, soccer is not invented by the English, although the word to describe it most probably came from them.
In fact, the nations of the Far East could be argued to have their own fair shares in contributions to the origination story soccer.
Does the above scene look familiar? It most certainly does. It was a Chinese sport played by Chinese long before the Chinese were to any small degree open to the taking up of Western activities. It is the ancient Chinese sport cuju, played primarily from the 3rd century BC to the 14th century AD, is perhaps one of the most similar ancient sport to modern soccer. The most common form of cuju had one or two goals positioned in the middle of a field, which each team attempted to kick a ball through to score points. In another, more traditional version of the game, zhuqui, there was only one goal, and each team would try to pass the ball through it from their respective sides in order to score.
Although scoring in kemari is way-off from modern soccer, the probability of its contributing to the modern game cannot be discounted. In the most common form of the game, eight players in a court (typically 20 feet by 20 feet) took turns to kick the ball into the air, attempting to keep it off the ground for as many kicks as possible. These courts featured four specially placed trees, one planted in each corner, which were used as extra layers of entertainment to the game. Players would often kick the ball up into these trees, which were pruned specifically such that the ball would bounce down through the branches without getting stuck. The player closest to the ball on its way down would attempt to intercept it, kicking it to another player to continue the play.
There is even the probability that contribution was made to the sport by people considered to fall 'outside the pale of civilization'
The never-really-heard-of Australian Aboriginal game, woggabaliri, is sometimes referenced in sources discussing the history of soccer, though it neither looks like a form of soccer nor ties in with its history. This sport, first recorded, strangely, by a Prussian scientist in 1857, involved kicking a ball in the air and attempting to keep it from touching the ground. According to his description of the game, it seems like it was similar to juggling a soccer ball among several players. The main difference with the modern soccer, like the kemari, is that there is no end goal except to keep the ball in play for as long as possible.
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