How did football become soccer?

  • Thursday, July 3, 2014

On June 12, the term “Flying Dutchman” was mentioned more than once in the media and the reporters were not referring to the legendary ghost ship that's not able to make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. Nor are they referring to André Rieu's music CD. Robin van Persie earned the nickname “Flying Dutchman” when he scored the Netherlands' first goal against Spain in the third match of the 2014 World Cup Soccer in Brazil.

I know soccer is not one of the most popular sports in the U.S., but in most other countries, and especially in my home country, it is THE No. 1 sport. That's why in my house – at the moment – it is soccer mania. We are very nationalistic, and we want the Dutch team to win. The U.S. is also performing above expectations so far. Hopefully, this will boost the interest in soccer the same way it did in 1999 and 2011, when the women's soccer team made it to the FIFA World Cup finals. They won the title in 1999 and finished second in 2011. Every little girl wanted to be Mia Hamm or Hope Solo.

I always wondered where the name soccer came from, since in most Germanic language-speaking countries soccer is called football (English), voetbal (Dutch), Fußball (German) or fotball (Norwegian). That's why I thought that the word soccer was an American “invention.” I was very much mistaken. It is utterly British.

Back in the 1800s, most sports were called football since they were played on foot. Every sport had its own sets of rules. The modern variety of football finds its origin in English boarding school athletics. Every school played its own version of “football,” which led to confusion when players from one school met players from another.

In 1863, a group of teams in England decided to get together and create a standard set of rules which would be used at all their matches. They formed the rules for “Association Football,” with the “Association” distinguishing it from the many other types of football sports in existence such as “Rugby Football.” “Association Football” is a mouth full and it soon became “Association.” As the story goes, boarding school boys liked to shorten names, and when asked to play a game of “Rugger,” Charles Wreford-Brown, an Oxford student who captained England's national football team in 1894 and 1895, replied that he preferred “Soccer.”

After this titillating explanation regarding the word soccer, may it be true or not, I hope it sparked a reaction in your perception about “Football,” and the World Cup in particular. Some of our books in the library can give you some inside information about this unique sport, e.g.: “Eight World Cups: My Journey Through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer” by George Vecsey, a New York Times sports columnist who gives a personal account about the action on the field and the shady dealings in the back rooms and “Chasing the Game: America and the Quest for the World Cup” by Filip Bondy covers the triumphs and hard work of the U.S. men's soccer team in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. DVDs that might be of interest are: “The Game of my Life” with Dumisani Vusi Nhlapo centers on a small-town man whose football skills lead him to a match in the big city, and possible contact with his sports idol, and “Bend it like Beckham” with Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley. A girl wants to play soccer, but her parents won't allow it.

Please remember that the library and our bookdrops will be closing at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 3. We remain closed on Friday, July 4 for Independence Day, and reopen on Saturday, July 5 at 10 a.m.


Searching for Tech Savvy Teens (grades 9-12)

Throughout July

Mirjam Veldkamp, the young adult service specialist at the Mount Pleasant Regional Library, is looking for a few reliable and tech savvy teens (ninth grade and up) who would be interested in helping others learn how to use iPads, smart phones, tablets and other technological gadgets. If your school requires community service credit hours, this might count. If you have questions, or are interested in helping, call 843-849-6161 or email veldkampm@ccpl.org.

Mount Pleasant Reel Club – A book/movie discussion group (adults)

Wednesday, July 2, 2 p.m.

Read the book, come watch the movie with us, and then participate in a lively discussion.

Book: “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Movie: “The Great Gatsby” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan. Rated PG-13; 142 minutes.

“The Big Bang Theory” Marathon (ages 13 and up)

Wednesday, July 9, 2-5 p.m.

Join us to enjoy nine episodes from the second season of “The Big Bang Theory.”

Second Saturday Writing Critique Group (adults and teens ages 16 and up)

Saturday, July 12, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Open to all writers. For more information, call the Reference Desk at 843-849-6161 or email MtpReference@ccpl.org.

Monday Book Discussion (adults)

Monday, July 14, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

“The Husband's Secret” by Liane Moriarty

Mirjam Veldkamp is the Young Adult Specialist at the Mount Pleasant Regional Library Branch (1133 Mathis Ferry Road, 843-849-6161, www.mtplibrary.blogspot.com, www.ccpl.org, like us on Facebook). Email MTPReference@ccpl.org if you wish to receive a PDF copy of the programs being held each month at Mount Pleasant Regional.

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