From the Mission to Kilimanjaro: Where's Your Game?

Every once in a while I stumble across something that reminds me of just what a pickup game can do. Like the other night. On my way home from a swim in the Mission District, I stopped to watch a late game of pickup soccer. Winter is when we count our blessings in SF - while the rest of the country is blanketed by snow, we have warm days that almost make us forget the cold and foggy summers that lie ahead. The field was green (ok, so maybe it was artificial turf, but hang with me here), kids were running back and forth on the sidelines, their parents and older siblings were out passing the ball back and forth, and under the stadium lights I was struck with the thought that a whole community had come together at the end of their week in a way that they might have done in Bogota, or Mexico City, or maybe just down the road in LA. That night, I thought, pickup games helped strengthen a community.

Juneau-based mountain guide Bill Dwyer had a similar thought when climbing in Kilimanjaro, and then turned it on its head. Writing for JuneauEmpire.com, Bill describes the inspiration that drove him to use to soccer to bridge a divide between porters and clients that went deeper than language and money. Halfway up the highest mountain in Africa, Bill's started pickup games that brought him into a community, even if only for a short while. His story is here: http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/020411/out_780512023.shtml.

The next time you travel, forget the paperback and the headphones. Bring a soccer ball. We'll put you on the map with Pickup Sports. You don't need to learn the language.