Playing at Wembley for the Bobby Moore Bowel Cancer Foundation

November 22, 2011 - by mosesbet · Filed Under Sports News Comments Off on Playing at Wembley for the Bobby Moore Bowel Cancer Foundation 

Last weekend I played at Wembley Stadium to help raise money for the Bobby Moore Cancer Foundation.  The charity was set up after Bobby Moore died prematurely of Bowel Cancer at just 53 (Moore was one of the key players that helped England win the World Cup in 1966).

The experience playing on the pitch at Wembley was incredible – and deeply exhausting!

I originally thought that we’d just be playing on half of the pitch in a short 5-aside or even 7-aside game.  You can imagine my surprise when I found out after getting their we were to play 2 matches of 11-aside (using the full size Wembley pitch) for 25 minutes each.  There was no half-time retrieval either!

After playing through 25 minutes on the full size pitch at Wembley, it’s completely changed my opinion of football.  There’s no where to hid on a full-size pitch like that, and regardless of how well you can read the game sitting on your sofas and watching TV at home, everything is completely different when you’re there on the field.

It’s strange when you think about it, because when you’re watching England games on TV everything looks so easy.  You can see the position of the players on the pitch, pick out passes with relative ease, and scoring a goal looks pretty easy.

When you’re actually on the pitch however, everything’s different.  First of all, you can’t see everything straight in front of you.  You need to constantly be checking your surroundings and have excellent spatial awareness and 360 vision.  If the ball’s behind you, for example, then you need to understand where the player’s going to pass forward to you while keeping an eye on the opposition defence and where you’re nearest teammate is.

Once you get passed the ball, time just seems to speed up.  You have players running at you, you need to control the ball at your feet, you have thousands of spectators and commentators watching you, and you have to pick out a pass without losing possession.  You literally need to be able to pick out a pass and see patterns within split seconds.

I made one run out on the wing when a player booted it forward and I was in acres of space.  So I blitzed up the left-wing to try and start and attack, but before I even got to the opposition penalty area I was pretty tired.  And you have to remember that this was an amateur game – you’re team mates aren’t bursting into the box to get into a scoring position.  In effect, you have to hold the ball up better and play a much slower game.

The other thing that surprised me was how “spongy “the pitch was.  Playing on the Wembely turf was a completely different feeling to playing in a regular football pitch or in the courtyard.  As I said, the ground was “spongy” which meant your boots stick into the ground much more.  It’s harder to move quickly and it takes time to get used to the feeling – especially when you’re twisting and turning with the ball.

But the biggest, stark, realisation you have when you play an 11-aside game on the pitch is just how big it is! Wembley’s pitch is much bigger then any other Premier League or Championship club.  Just making runs from the half-way line up to the penalty area can take the wind out of you, so you have to give much more credit to players like Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale who constantly parade up and down the flanks for a full 90 minutes.