On the sidelines again

13th May 2005 at 01:00
Hubby is missing his football, big time. Here in the USA it's all baseball, basketball and something they call "football", which hubby reckons is really just rugby for wimps. No cup final fever in Georgia, and hubby is not a happy bunny.

Back home in lovely Luton, he coached his Year 5 team to glory, spent school holidays training to become a referee, relished his weekly games lesson (always footy, of course) and almost burst with pride as he tracked the professional careers of former proteges.

But now it's been nearly a year since he last blew his own whistle (literally). As a homeroom teacher in America, hubby never gets to play keepy-uppy, dribble through cones or explain the offside rule to his third-graders.

You see, at elementary schools here, PE is taught by specialists. So even the little kindergarteners have a full-blown sports science graduate on hand as they swing their first baseball bat, make a home run or attempt a slam-dunk. The fortysomething bloke from England who once jogged around the field yelling, "Nice pass, Dilbert!" just doesn't get a look in.

There isn't even the chance to dust down his precious FA handbook and do a spot of after-school coaching on the side. Thanks to those super-efficient yellow school buses, the entire student population is whisked home en masse as soon as lessons finish. At 2.45 each afternoon, an Elvis-esque announcement over the school PA system declares that "All children have left the building", signalling a similar swift exodus by the staff. No five-a-side tournaments on rainy Friday evenings for hubby here.

So am I feeling sorry for him, then? You must be joking. Forget Footballers' Wives - I've been a soccer widow for far too long. By coming to America, the one place where soccer really doesn't matter and extra-curricular sport is non-existent in public primary schools, we finally have football closure. An end to muddy boot-prints in the car and last-minute dashes to Asda for half-time oranges. And no more Saturday nights stuck watching Match of the Day instead of the chick flick on ITV.

But just when I thought I had seen the last of Wayne Rooney too, hubby signed up for the Fox World Soccer Channel - football from around the globe beamed by satellite into our apartment 247.

This, he assures me, is for entertainment purposes, as opposed to professional development. Yeah right. And just in time for next weekend's FA cup final and Liverpool in the Champions' League final too. It seems there really is no escape after all.

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