Soccer squeeze at Richmond High

It is said that futsal, that five-a-side form of soccer played indoors on a basketball court, helps build ball skills as players try to pass and maneuver in limited space. But playing soccer in a school hallway might be stretching (or should we say, compressing?) things a bit. After his team had come from behind on the road to beat Alameda High 3-1 at Thompson Field on Jan. 9, Oilers coach Rene Siles said his players had to practice in the hall of Richmond High the previous night. He added that the team would have to practice in the same venue the following night, Jan. 10, and there again on Jan. 12. On the plus side, the Oilers are getting a new all-weather field. Problem is, that field – – which was expected to have been up and going by now – – is not yet ready for play. Patience is running short.

"It’s just not fair to these kids," Siles says. "They work hard. They are committed."

In the first half of their match with Alameda, the Oilers looked uncharacteristically flat. They had given up a penalty kick for a 1-0 deficit. Notching the equalizer early in the second half seemed to energize the Oilers. And through Jan. 9, the team still was undefeated and untied atop the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League standings.

When all clicks, the Oilers play a most interesting and entertaining brand of soccer. They exude a special passion for the game. This is soccer from the heart, as opposed to some other schools that play the game as if programmed by computer.

The Oilers’ game against Alameda, however, had its rough edges. Though Richmond is a strong team as it is, one wonders what the quality of Oilers soccer could be if the team was able to practice on a full field at its own school.