More than just a game of soccer

CRUISING: Lauren Kaiser sprints upfield with the ball in a game earlier this season. The Canes find out Monday if they will make the NCAA tournament. File Photo // Steve Root.

Aggregated extra time has concluded. The game is over. The University of Florida Gators have defeated the University of Miami Hurricanes in a grueling and demanding club soccer match, 1-0.

This was yet another example of the intense rivalry these two schools have shared throughout the past decades… right?

Sure – if both athletic programs had Division I soccer programs, then it would mean something. Some of the critics may be thinking to themselves, “Who cares about club sports? They don’t really mean anything.”

“That’s just someone’s own personal opinion,” said Petter Bauer, in response to that remark. Bauer, a sophomore playing on the UM club soccer team for his second year could not disagree more. “Since I joined the team, I have met some of the coolest and friendliest people I know at the university. I don’t know about other club sports, but to us, it’s more than just playing soccer. It’s about getting to know those you’re playing with.”

In the last weekend of September, the team traveled up north to Gainesville to face the Gators.

“That was definitely the best competition I’ve faced since becoming a part of this team,” said Andre Britto, a sophomore and the team’s treasurer. “Even though we lost, it was a really cool experience going there and playing against such a good club team.”

As treasurer, Andre is in charge of handling player dues and coordinating prices for hotels and buses. Because of long distance travel to matches, Andre often has to get money from the university and explain to administration why the funds will be beneficial to the school in the long run.

“We’re trying to prove ourselves by going to nationals this year,” Britto said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys from places like Argentina, Brazil, Switzerland and Mexico. There is some serious talent on our team, and I think our squad has a good chance to turn some heads and make a name for ourselves.”

When the subject of the University of Miami being devoid of a Division I men’s team was brought up, both Bauer and Britto expressed their sincere displeasure.

“Yeah it sucks,” Bauer said. “I’ll admit that I’m pretty jealous that the girl’s team gets to play on the nice field and we’re stuck on the intramural field. However, the thing that is the most frustrating is the fact that we could have a really good team at this school because of all the talented guys that play around campus.”

The team does hold tryouts at the beginning of each semester, but in the spirit of a “club” team, the team does not cut any individuals who want to be part of the team.

According to Bauer and Britto, although the more skilled players get more playing time, everyone who plays hard and puts forward his best effort gets playing time.

Currently 4-2 in match play this year, this club sport is about more than guys getting together a couple days a week to kick a ball around a field and into some nets. These teammates appreciate each other’s company and love being able to take part in such an enjoyable community program.