Soccer is played all over the world. We have found images of boys playing soccer n many different countries. It is most popular in Europe and South America, but there is no country in the world that it is not played. Even the austere Taliban which banned kite flying could not prevent boys from playing soccer. The uniforms are fairly standard around the world, although informal play clothes can vary. We notice vert few differences in the uniform associated with specific countries. Islamic countries generally frown on the short pants commonly worn for soccer. There are also some differences associated with climate such as German boys wearing tights to play soccer during the winter. Perhaps HBC readers will know of some country differences.
Even the austere Taliban which banned kite flying could not prevent boys from playing soccer--although they did try to control cheering in the stadium where soccer was played. (The stadium was also used for executions.) The Taliban did not, however, approve of short pants. And they did not allow girls to play.
Football devreloped as a sport in England. Unlike Rugby football, the history of soccer is less we;; documented and not as involved with the public (exclusive private) schools. We note reports of matches between towns and villages. It as also played at schools, but not as commonly as Rugby. Class differences were involved here. Some saw soccer as a working-class sports. Some public schools banned soccer. One HBC reader tells us that at his public school (Norfolk Cathedrsl chool) that even kicking a ball was banned. The sport, however, was so populr that private schools gradually added soccer to the sports program. State schools less coimmonly had sports programs. Early uniforms were very basic. The basic uniform standards were thus set in England where the sport developed. We are unsure about the first uniforms. We do note a jersey or "T"-shirt being worn with long shorts and kneesocks. After World War I the shorts gradually became shorter. We note youth soccer teams after World War II. We are not sure in many cases if these are school teams or some kind of youth sports clubs.
We do not know a great deal about German youth sports. We notice sports competions in the 1920s and 30s, but these seem to be more athletics than team sports competitioins. We do not see any indication of a major youth sports program until after World War II (1939-45). This seemds to hve been sports clubs rather than school sports. German soccer teams were real power houses in the 1950s and 60s. This helpedv to create great enthudiam for the sport among boys. There is even a movie addressing this topic. The images we note accross Europe are very similsar. For the most part we do not note any desctinctive German features. There are also some differences associated with climate such as German boys wearing tights to play soccer during the winter.
We are unsure when Hong Kong boys began playing soccer. We notice some images of Hong Kong boys in the 2000s playing soccer. We are not sure just who sponsors the teams. We note a Scout team, but we are unsure if youth scoccer teams are sponsored by schools or whether they are club teams. The images we have show the boys playing on paved courts rather than grass fields. We are unsure how common this is. The uniforms we have noted are not as elaborate as those we have noted in other countries.
Italy is of course one of the world's soccer powerhouses.
Youth sports have not been as popular in Japan as in many other countries, perhaps because of the very rigorous academic approach to education. Japan has primarily followed soccer uniform styles in other countries. The image here shows a Japanese boy in his soccer uniform, we believe about the 1980s. Some of the Japanese images we have seen seem a little more fashionable than those we have noted from other countries.
I am not sure how popular soccer is in Malasia. A reader tells us that at least some boys in Malaysia wear tights under their soccer shorts. He noticed a team with blue shorts wearing dark blue tights. We are not sure how common this is in Maylasia. Nor or we sure why they wear tights. We notice this practice in Germany and other countries with cold winters. Here the boys wear tights for warmth or to avoid skin burns from the synthetic turf used for indoor facilities. Neither of these reasons seem to explain wearing tights for outdoor play in tropical Malaysia. Perhaps they are worn as aresult of Muslim modesty. We are just not sure at this time.
Paraguay is a South Americsn country for which we have very little information. The Paraguyan national Team was founded in 1906 and affiliated with the World Association in 1921. Parguay participated in the World Cup several times (1930, 1950, 1958, 1986, 1998, 2002). They were in the final 16 twice (1998, 2002), which is a substantial achievement for such a small country. This speaks in part to the popularity of the sport in Paraguay. We know nothing at this time about youth sports in the country. A reader has sent us, however, a photograph of boys playing football. As in the rest of South America, football is by far the principal sport. It is a relatively poor country and thus may play barefoot. We have few details about football in Paraguay.
We know very little about sports in Sweden. We believe that the most popular sport is ice hockey. This is, however, a difficult sport to play, especially for children. Soccer is a sport that children can begin playing at a very early age. Thus as in the rest of Europe, soccer has become hugely popular in Sweden. We do not know how it is organized, we are guessing sports clubs. Of course the climate limits when it can be played outdoors. There are probably indoor facilities as in Germany.
We know very little about sports in Tajikistan. We have no information at this time about traditional sports. We do notice that football appears to be a passion among Tajik boys. No matter where you go, you can always observes boys playing football or at least kicking a fooball around. As soon as boys get home from school the footballs come out. This seems to be almost entirely a boy activity. Rarely do you see girls with soccer balls. I'm not sure just when football became popular in Tajikistan. It was obviously duing the Soviet era. We suspect sometime after World War II. We note that sports team uniform items are very popular. The wo most popular in Tajikistan for some reason are Manchester United and Arsenal.
American boys did not begin playing soccer to any extent until the 1960s. Growing up in the 1950s, I never saw boys playing soccer. We all played baseball in the summer and football (American gridiron) in the Fall. Little League baseball was popular and I don't recall ever seeing soccer leagues. This all began changing in the 1960s. American children now play soccer more than baseball and this includes girls. While girls occassionally play baseball, large numbers plat soccer. American boys began to wear soccer shorts for casual and school wear starting in the mid to late 70s. Elementary and Junior High (Middle) schoolboys especially liked to wear Addias brand nylon soccer shorts, but would wear the regular cotton ones as well. At the time these were quite short and they stayed that way into the early 90s. In the mid-70s to mid-80s, boys would wear long tube socks with color bands that matched their shorts (and frequently) shirt colors to school. As styles of soccer and other shorts got longer in the late 90s, wearing soccer shorts to school kind of faded out although some die-hard players will still do so. Boys in high school will wear long nylon shorts to school, but these resemble basketball uniforms more than soccer ones. As far as game uniforms go, cotton shorts, mesh-reversible shirts and long tube-style socks have given way to stylish nylon shirts, shorts and turn-over soccer socks. Teams seem to compete at times to see who has the flashiest uniforms. The newer long shorts/baggy shirts remind you of uniforms worn in the 40s and 50s. It's a much sloppier look than the trimmer uniforms of the 70s through 90s. Now, boys would not be caught dead in the shorter shorts of that period. Many boys now see the shorter cut shorts as :girls' shorts". FIFA rules prohibit wearing shirts untucked and socks pushed down which creates a better appearance on the field. After games, boys will wear their soccer shorts with ankle socks or sandals instead of their soccer socks and t-shirts in place of their jerseys.
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