In Canada this week, Vancouver finally welcomes the Soccer Messiah, aka David Beckham, for a rearranged game against the Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL
tomorrow night tonight. As the always thoughtful Global Game blog asserts, though, his arrival is more interesting as it “raises more interest in pre-existing soccer traditions than in the soccer actually being played”.
According to Kendall Blanchard in The Anthropology of Sport: An Introduction (Bergin Garvey/Greenwood, 1995), akraurak is contested between goals that are “markings in the snow at unspecified distances from each other. Teams kick the ball up and down the field, the object being to drive it across the goal line of an opponent. The game is played predominantly in the spring and summer months, and everyone, regardless of sex or age, may participate” (150).
As Nuttall also writes, Inuit from Greenland and across the Arctic see in aurora borealis, the northern lights, the souls of ancestors. They call these heavenly apparitions arsarnerit, or “the football players.”
Among First Nations, who are distinct from Inuit and another Canadian indigeneous group, the Métis, it is harder to identify a precursor to modern football. Traditions of leisure and games, however, form part of the cyclical life pattern characteristic of aboriginal culture. Recurring competitions such as the Arctic Games and North American Indigenous Games feature traditional sports as well as soccer. Started in 1990, the latter includes more than 9,000 participants in sport and cultural events.
Go and read the rest of the entry to learn more.