The Eighth Page

Cluster Soccer Gets a Little Messi

In preparation for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, each country has sent their supposedly “developing” players to training camp at no other place than Andover. The short-fielded, six v. six practices will improve players’ accuracy, condition them for sprints and, most importantly, fuel their competitive spirits as they compete for the coveted Cluster Cup, which will function as a mock World Cup.

Players have been separated from their countries and placed in supposedly unbiased teams. True die-hard supporters of the Cluster Cup know that these countries must be broken up in order to prevent any sort of international incident. A championship game between two intense rivals from opposite quarters could sour currently peaceful international relations.

Likewise, there are rumors circulating that certain countries have stacked their teams with all-stars, clearly against the Cluster Cup Rules. Even Christiano Ronaldo has been spotted on campus. Although he has tried to keep a low profile, one would mistake him for an oasis in the midst of the Sahara with all these thirsty girls around. David Beckham is also rumored to have appeared, but most would mistake him for a Calvin Klein ad.

With the draft near completion, players have been pulling out their reversible pinnies and flashiest moves to impress team Captains. Sometimes the spectacle looks more like a hockey game as players jostle for the ball, often with more than a few elbows. Even so, winning the gold will make the blood, sweat and tears all worth it.

However, the true honor goes to the goalies. Since the rules dictate they can’t use their hands, they should really be called target practice. Teams handcuff goalies as a friendly reminder of their planned impairment. To prevent goals, some players wrap their bodies around the ball as players dribble the ball up the field, while others let their natural instincts take place and duck with a sharp squeal.

Even though the season has not officially started, competition looks fierce. Some players are definitely ready for the World Cup, while others want to stick to the in-demand instructional level. Most of these Cluster players look as if they were the stars of their previous and future World Cup teams, and a few have already signed endorsement deals with Nike, Adidas and Diadora.