An object to kick.
The elements of soccer are really very simple which is one reason it is the most widely played sport in the world. Unlike basketball, no elevated hoop is necessary. A goal can be as simple as a defined space—the area between two trees or across a line drawn in chalk on a street. Unlike baseball, no equipment beyond a ball is required. Unlike American Football, the rules of soccer are few (17 to be exact) and relatively easy to understand.
The roots of soccer can be traced back to the Han Dynasty in second century China. The game tsu chu, or “kicking a ball,” was included in military physical training. An elaborate game of tsu chu was played on the emperor’s birthday. Teams would attempt to kick a feather-filled ball through a small goal that consisted of a net attached to bamboo poles. The stakes were high. Legends say the winners were treated to a feast while the losers were sometimes beheaded.
Kemari was played in Japan dating back to the seventh century. In this circular game, players had to pass the ball to each other without letting it touch the ground, similar in some ways to what we call hacky sack or footbag.
In 16th century Italy, a game called calico was played on holidays. Teams would gather in the city squares of Florence and Venice and compete in this game that involved kicking as well as handling the ball. Each team had 27 players who wore ornate costumes.