Pinpointing the origins of football is rather like scrambling for the ball itself. “It’s MINE! I got here FIRST!” Many claim it, but few can prove it. Kicking a pebble may well have been born in a prehistoric cave; we’ll probably never know for sure. But with regards to a more structured game, there are written histories, archaeological finds and artworks from ancient China and Japan to Egypt, Greece, Rome, Australia and the Americas. As archaeologists work their way around the globe, they’ll probably find that football’s web of roots reaches almost everywhere. and while the games may vary from country to country, city to city, and school to school, the name “football” has been used for centuries, while the name :soccer” is a much more recent invention.
Australians have mostly known football to be the game that uses the Sherrin, features marks and long kicks and has four posts at each end of the playing field. But the world knows football as the game Australians once called soccer. Catherine Chambers suggests that football owes its world popularity to its roots in almost every country. In Goal!she explores the history of football from early documentation to current statistics. And like the global coverage of the World Cup, no country or individual element is forgotten. Discover why a king called the game dangerous, one mayor thought playing it would contribute to the spread of foot and mouth disease and some churches declared playing it a sin! See how the rules evolved to those used today and why umpires are now called referees. ‘Goal!’ includes player profiles and statistics, chapters on female football, politics and money, and many info bites with anecdotes and oddities.
Catherine Chambers also wrote ‘A History of Cricket’ and employs the same engaging conversational style in Goal. She invites the reader to come take a chair and discover why football is the sport for everyman (and woman). From seed-filled cloth balls to the challenges of World Cup qualification, Goal!is jam-packed full of football. There is a list of contents, glossary and extensive index, making navigation easy for the can’t-sit-still, dip-in reader. The progression from ancient to modern times entices sequential reading. There are ball-shaped bios that pass from one to the next featured player. It’s like a ‘choose your own adventure’ for sport. Recommended for upper primary, early secondary readers, and anyone who wants to know more about football with the round ball.
Goal! Catherine Chambers
Black Dog Books 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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