Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Capturing the World Cup spectacle in a book
by Mike Woitalla, June 8th, 2010 2:43PM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

MOST READ
TAGS:  world cup, youth boys, youth girls

MOST COMMENTED

By Mike Woitalla

The magic of the bookshelf is what has kept me from acquiring a Kindle, one of those convenient e-books that let you load up bestsellers at a discount and take a library on vacation.

I still go for real books, because I enjoy looking at the rows of them, reminding me of where I was when I read them, and what I got out of them.

One of my favorite sections is the lower shelf, which makes room for the big volumes and includes my collection of wonderfully illustrated World Cup books, to which I have finally made an addition, “The ESPN World Cup Companion: Everything You Need to Know About the Planet's Biggest Sporting Event,” By David Hirshey and Roger Bennett.

My collection started in 1973, when my grandparents began the tradition of sending me, from Germany, World Cup books, before and after every World Cup. These books might be the main reason I learned to read German, but what I remember most is that they made soccer stars come alive for me.

One includes a 12-page section on Pele with 27 photos. Pele playing against Bobby Moore. Pele with Robert F. Kennedy. Pele riding a horse. And so on.

As I leaf through the first one they sent me, I recall how much I enjoyed the spectacular photos, especially of goals being scored. I looked at these photos over and over. Soccer being a rarity on American TV, this was my link to how the great ones play.

And I remember finding, at the back of the book, the 1950 score: USA 1, England 0. I hadn’t even known the USA played in a World Cup.

Today, we have no shortage of soccer on TV and youngsters can watch Pele or Maradona or Messi on YouTube. But I still imagine soccer-playing teenagers getting plenty of joy out of the colorful, informative and entertaining “ESPN World Cup Companion.”

“The Companion” takes a more light-hearted and irreverent approach than my German books. It has sections such as Best and Worst uniforms, the World Coiffure Cup and a brief history of Timeless World Cup Song Lyrics.

But “The Companion” also offers what I always enjoyed most: fascinating photos, riveting accounts of World Cup history, and profiles of the greatest players -- and villains.

The photos capture the intensity, beauty and skill of the sport. In some ways, by freezing a brilliant split-second, the still photo offers more than the highlight clip. Stunned expressions of Argentine defenders as Francois Omam-Biyik flies a good four feet off the ground to score in 1990. Michel Platini weaving through a quartet of defenders, somehow keeping his balance.

And those wonderful black-and-white photos of the early World Cups! Uruguay’s first goal against Brazil in the 1950 final, or Joe Gaetjens getting carried off the field after the USA's win over England.

The World Cup history is presented with such lively and witty writing, teenagers would relish this book without noticing they’re being educated on not just soccer’s story, but a bit of world history.

The “ESPN World Cup Companion” isn’t intended as a children’s book. It’s adult reading. But teens are more drawn to something that doesn’t treat them like children. And the presentation and prose are strong enough to give today’s young soccer fan an appreciation for the beauty of a book.

The ESPN World Cup Companion: Everything You Need to Know About the Planet's Biggest Sporting Event
(By David Hirshey and Roger Bennett) Hardcover, 256 pages. Publisher: ESPN. $30.



(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for Rockridge SCin Oakland, Calif. Woitalla's youth soccer articles are archived at YouthSoccerFun.com.)





No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Tips for attending a college ID camp    
With summer being a popular time for young players to attend College ID camps, we've asked ...
Gottschee and FC Dallas take No. 1 seeds into Development Academy playoffs    
FC Dallas and BW Gottschee of Queens, New York, are the No. 1 seeds in the ...
Teen stars sign with MLS clubs    
In the wake of Atlanta United, set to begin MLS play in 2017, signing 15-year-old Andrew ...
How refs deal with trash-talking    
"Look at the scoreboard" and "You got nothing" are two common things that trash-talking players say.
Does American soccer really only work for white kids?    
Les Carpenter's article for the London-based Guardian on American youth soccer is headlined: "'It's only working ...
Changing the Canvas: Finding Inspiration Outside of our Beautiful Game    
My wife is a developmental psychologist. For two decades she has been studying children and the ...
'Toughest World Cup yet' awaits U.S. U-17 girls    
The USA will face Paraguay, Ghana and defending champion Japan in the first round of 2016 ...
John Hackworth: India experience provides valuable lessons for U.S. U-17 boys    
In its third international tournament of the year, the U.S. U-17 boys national team finished runner-up ...
Adding to the alphabet soup of American youth soccer    
If your children play soccer in the USA, they may be playing under the umbrella of ...
Insights on European scouting of U.S. youngsters by 'Arsenal Yankee' Danny Karbassiyoon    
Daniel Karbassiyoon jokes that Arsenal kept him from going to college twice. The first time, at ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives