We're huddled round discussing plays, and I'm trying to look as if I'm taking it seriously.
"What we're going to do is a double-hand off. Who is faster out of you guys?"
I shrug and point to the other guy. That's almost certainly true.
"Right. So you come up behind me, and then you pass it straight to him, and he'll do a running play. Meanwhile she'll go wide, he'll stay short and we'll see how far we get..."
"What do I do after I pass it?"
"Get out of the way. And into their way. See what I mean?"
I nodded dutifully. We'd already been playing for an hour, and this was the first time I looked likely to touch the funny-shaped ball. So far I had been mostly running around and trying to look like I knew what I was doing... which is precisely my preferred tactic on the so-called soccer field. I must have been doing whatever I'd been doing pretty efficiently, because we had a pretty healthy lead. But that was all about to change.
We lined up and I stared down my opponent. She was a tough broad, and I got the feeling that she wasn't fooled by my game face. Personally, I thought my game face was pretty intimidating until I got tagged in lots of photos looking like a gnome. Bet that quarterback that married Gisele (in a bid to make the world's most beautiful babies) never had that problem.
When the grunt sounds I move as if in a slow motion playback. For a horrible second it looks like I'm going to drop the ball which has been placed directly into my outstretched arms, and which I am charged with conveying a full 10 inches backwards into my teammate's hands. The runner hardly has time to shoot me a quizzical look before he's taken down by one of our strapping opponents. Shouts of "Smooth" come from their side of the field. Although this America, land of free speech, drop kicks and fumbled irony, I'm not entirely sure they're in earnest.
In the next play my natural aggression and butter fingers are put to better use with a bit of tactical body-blocking. But however much I barge and snarl and run like the clappers in my flowery dress the game has turned and lady luck is smiling on our enemies. They finish victorious just as the sun goes behind a cloud. It doesn't matter. I'm one step closer to being an All American Sportswoman... and I have the gnomish photos to prove it.