Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hello again, we're back!

Summer found us here in Korea, the mornings start off nice and cool but by match time, the heat and humidity poke their way through onto the pitch. Compared to the 115 degree heat and 400% humidity back home in NC, it ain’t so bad, so no worries.

The matches are going well so far, I was able to practice my Italian and hack my way through some Portugese/Spanish/sign language with the Brazilians, who took their match 2-1.

Yesterday, I did my first middle for the Korea v. Canada game, and all went well, only one caution and all goals coming off the run of play, with Canada taking first in their group with a 3-1 win. My six words of Korean came in handy but with the unintended side effect is that the players thought I was miraculously gifted with something close to fluency. But, no, sorry, I mostly speak food.

Today, I’ll be doing the middle for the Italy v. Australia game, and Wheels will be on the line bench-side. She’s picked up some survival Italian from Cristina and me. No doubt, Cristina’s version is more PG-13. This game should be interesting with the team's very different styles; the Aussies rarely pass up a good opportunity for a hip check and the Italians want a full extended family meet and greet before having their personal space invaded. Hopefully, I’ll help them find something towards the middle that everyone is equally dissatistfied with, hehe. The U.S. will play their heated rival Brazil today. Our friend Jenny will be in charge of that one with a solid crew by her side; it’s gonna be a good one.
Wheels is extending her culinary horizons and ate some sushi yesterday! Go Wheels!! Today I’m going to sneak some grilled eel on her plate and try to convince her that the raw squid are just ‘special’ noodles. I’ll need to keep my head low in case she tries to throw it back at me across the table. Wish me luck.

Our days are full with morning meetings and debriefs, matches, keeping our bellies full, and not crashing head-first into the knees of a slew of men’s volleyball teams that overran the hotel a couple of days ago. I think half of them sleep with their feet hanging out open windows. There is no way they fit into these Cabbage-Patch doll rooms here. Wheels and I have to mind our step when they’re around so we don’t get smushed like a couple of squeak-toys. Yikes.

More later after today’s matches.

Hello again! The Italy v. Australia game saw the Aussies take the match, 3-0. We had two cautions for the Aussies for tactical and reckless fouls. Outside of that, everyone played and we had a good flowing match. Today, we have the semi-final for the group, with Brazil playing against Australia. Two very different styles again. We’ll see what the line-ups bring to our match-ups. Wheels will be running the line, properly fortified with grilled eel and 10-alarm kimchee soup, and I’ll be in the middle with Strawberry on the other line and Sugar minding the benches. Should be a good one!

Last night, we went to another traditional Korean restaurant where we were theoretically supposed to sit cross-legged at low tables – I really need to hit a yoga class every day for about 5 years before trying that again, yowch! The main event of this meal was Korean bulogi, delicately sliced raw beef cooked in a central pot of broth, noodles, and vegetables. Of course there were about 30 different side dishes, from the omnipresent fire-engine kim-chee to steamed dumplings the size of baseballs, to dried fish (can you say salt?), spicy veggies, a whole bowl of fresh garlic cloves (no kisses, please!), and 14 varieties of sliced and diced cabbage. We rolled out of the restaurant, commandeered the sauna to cook ourselves in the hot Jacuzzi, then the warm one, then the ice-cold one so we didn’t fall asleep at the bottom. With full bellies and rejuvenated legs, another day came to a close. It’s now morning again, and time to get the ref. bag ready, put on our game faces, and head to the stadium. We’ll do our best to get it right and check back a bit later.

See ya!
Fini & Wheels

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