Back and forth they go along the sidelines. Attacking. Defending. Delivering pinpoint crosses. And the best will score a few goals, too.
Wingers can generate much excitement among soccer fans worldwide. Moreover, the best are of great value to their teams.
Consider the case of 13-year-old Faisal Hakimi, an eighth grader at Pine Hollow Middle School in Concord and budding soccer winger. In a recent scrimmage, played with small goals, he juked one defender, only to find two others standing in front of the goal.
"I saw a space between their legs," Hakimi said, "so I shot and the ball went in the goal."
Coaches and fellow players at the Lamorinda Soccer Club, where he plays for the under-14 team, know of Hakimi's prowess. So do those with Concord's Aria Soccer Club, where Hakimi also plays, and the national under-15 team of Afghanistan. Both of Hakimi's parents are from Afghanistan, though Hakimi himself was born in the United States.
Now, Spain's famed FC Barcelona knows about Hakimi, too.
Officials at FC Barcelona already had heard some word of Hakimi when it invited him to train with the club from Nov. 22-30 and try out for its youth academy. Those running the club were further impressed with him as the aforementioned scrimmage with the nifty moves and the thread-the-needle shot that took place at the club's La Masia youth academy against fellow young invitees.
"They were laughing, and they said, 'Really nice
Hakimi's father Farid, mother Fariba and sister Mariam, a junior at Clayton Valley High School also received invitations to join him on the trip to Barcelona.
"It was a great feeling," Hakimi said
Farid Hakimi echoed his son's emotions.
"Every kid would like to have this; it's once in a lifetime," Farid Hakimi said.
In addition to playing soccer with fellow invitees, Hakimi and his family also met the team's current stars, including Lionel Messi, considered by many to be the world's top player.
"I talked to Messi during the training," Hakimi said. "He's shy, though."
Hakimi collected a game jersey signed by Messi along with a signed ball and hat. Farid Hakimi also received a Barcelona jersey signed by both Messi and Andres Iniesta, the Barcelona midfielder who scored Spain's winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final.
Faisal Hakimi won't hear back from Barcelona for a while, as training and tryout sessions continue into spring 2013. In the meantime, Hakimi will keep honing his game.
"He's a very technical player; he's good on the ball and has a nice first touch," said Javier Ayala-Hil, Hakimi's Lamorinda coach. "He's a two-footed player, too, meaning he's good with both feet, as good with his right as he is with his left."
Ayala-Hil and other coaches have employed Hakimi on either the left or right sides of the forward line in a 4-3-3 formation. Mostly, though, he's on the left.
"He's a good finisher, but his main role is to play crosses to the designated striker," Ayala-Hil said.
Hakimi makes an impact beyond his skills, too.
"One thing I like about Faisal is his dedication to soccer and passion for the game," said Lamorinda technical director Mohamed Mohamed. "He comes early and leaves late. He's got a good attitude, very coachable."
Whatever happens, Faisal Hakimi looks to have a bright soccer future, whether with Barcelona or another club. At present, he continues to dazzle on the wing.
Someday, Hakimi might be the one signing a jersey for another young soccer hopeful.