Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Sand Nor Marsh, Soccer Plays On

Patrick LairdCorrespondent IAugust 2, 2009

DUNOON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 16:  Players take part in the annual UK Swamp Soccer tournament on June 16, 2007 in Dunoon, Scotland .Swamp Soccer originates from the swamps of Finland and is fast becoming an alternative sport with tournaments taking place all over the World. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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The often misquoted and unofficial creed of the U.S. Postal Service on the James Farley Post Office building in New York City reads:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

The statement encompasses the attitude of not only the postal service, but the American people in general. No barrier will impede the hardworking federal employees.

The exact same rings true for soccer and its fans. It's no surprise that when one looks worldwide for the game of soccer, no amount of inclement weather or debilitating playing surfaces can keep the beautiful game from engaging a community, nation, or continent.

The pitch consists traditionally of 115 yards by 74 yards of gorgeous green grass. There are times and places, however, that the traditional turf will simply not suffice.

The freezing weather of some areas can cause a pitch to become barren of any footwork. No worries, because "footy" fanatics can hone their skills in the confines of an indoor field.

Soccer becomes a distant cousin of hockey, as an elliptical enclosure of fiberglass and plywood allows the most avid of players to fancy skills in close proximity of one another.

Perhaps some soccer hearts desire both the cold and the game. Then Colorado may hold the panacea for their wintry wishes. Ice Soccer, played on a traditional hockey rink, calls soccer enthusiasts during the coldest months and even some in the summer.

European football purists can travel to Germany for their dose of the frozen footballers. Players wear full pads like in hockey as they slide across the ice searching for adequate footing to blast a shot off the frozen field.

Summertime in any part of the world is a time for the outdoors. Most people want to find the closest beach, be it near an ocean or lake. No matter where one decides to soak in some rays, soccer always finds its way to the sandy paradises.

Beach soccer, in fact, is sanctioned by FIFA. You can catch some of the CONCACAF qualifying rounds for the Beach Soccer World Cup this summer. The games are shorter, but imagine how the legs must feel after a game on the unsymmetrical, bumpy, soft granules of the beach.

Though the games are shorter, beach soccer can tire and dehydrate even the most able-bodied of footballing fanatics. No problems on the Asian continent, where water soccer has become the pastime of summer frolickers. 

This version can be played either on an inflatable "field" covered with a few inches of water or a stage with built-in sprinklers. This refreshing recreational adaptation will have some goalies involuntarily hydrating with every diving save.

As if water and sand does not pose enough of a maneuverable mishap, Finland decided that the pitch isn't challenging enough if it doesn't attempt to swallow players whole.

Created in Finland and also played in the UK, swamp soccer displays footy determination beyond any other form in the world.

Bogged down in often knee deep muck, simply getting off a shot takes perseverance unknown to the professionals gracing Old Trafford and Anfield.

Since 1997, competitive teams from all over the world have been strengthening their leg muscles in the Swamp Soccer World Championship.

Teams creatively pay homage to their soccer ancestors with team names such as Real Mudrid and Mudchesthair United.  The marshy mayhem plays every year with a men's and mixed champion.

No matter the season, geography, conditions or surface, the world's most popular sport plays on. Just like the devoted mailmen and women of America, soccer finds its way into the competitive hearts of players and fans alike.

So next time you peer onto a baseball diamond or outdoor basketball court on a rainy, snowy or putridly hot day, just think—somewhere, somehow, people have brought out the soccer ball and started a friendly gathering to enjoy the game they love.

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