AP PHOTOS: Soccer transcends elite level as World Cup nears

Nov 16, 2022, 9:13 AM | Updated: 11:25 pm
Children play soccer in an open space in Harare, Zimbabwe, Sunday, Nov, 13, 2022. The World Cup beg...

Children play soccer in an open space in Harare, Zimbabwe, Sunday, Nov, 13, 2022. The World Cup begins this weekend in Qatar and the attention of the soccer world will be on the first Middle Eastern nation to host the tournament. But soccer is not only about watching the world's greatest players compete on the biggest stage. The sport transcends the elite level and is really the people's game.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

              People walk across a soccer pitch as they arrive to play a match on Hackney Marshes, in London, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
            
              Adam Hemberger, right, plays soccer with his one-year-old daughter Olivia in San Francisco, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
            
              Boys play soccer at a beach in Dakar, Senegal, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
            
              A goalkeeper tries to make a save during a soccer match in front of a war-damaged building in the stadium in the city of Irpin, Ukraine Saturday Nov. 13, 2022, which was badly damaged by the Russian army during their occupation. (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko)
            
              Afghan children play soccer on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
            
              Ziza Polak, second from right, cheers on her brother Ekko, foreground, during a soccer match in San Francisco, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
            
              Young Nepalese Hindu priests play soccer near Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
            
              A girls soccer team warms up for their game in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. V·squez)
            
              Young men play soccer at a playground against the backdrop of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas in Dharamshala, India, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
            
              Anthony Granados, right, 12, and Joseph Valle, 12, play soccer at John Ferraro Athletic Fields in Los Angeles Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
            
              A child plays soccer at La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires Argentina, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              A child takes a shot on goal as they play soccer in Buenos Aires Argentina, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Two players challenge for the ball as they play soccer at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
            
              Afghan children play soccer on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
            
              Men play a soccer match at "31" neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              People watch a soccer match on a worn pitch in Harare, Zimbabwe, Sunday, Nov, 13, 2022.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
            
              Afghans play soccer on a dirt pitch in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
            
              People play soccer on dirt pitches along a street in a neighbourhood in Dakar, Senegal, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
            
              Boys run after the ball as they play soccer on a beach in Dakar, Senegal, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
            
              An Afghan youth plays soccer on a makeshift pitch in an open field, on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
            
              A view of some of the many soccer pitches during matches on Hackney Marshes, in London, Sunday Nov. 13, 2022.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
            
              A child stands with a home made soccer ball during a match in an open space in Harare, Zimbabwe, Sunday, Nov, 13, 2022. The World Cup begins this weekend in Qatar and the attention of the soccer world will be on the first Middle Eastern nation to host the tournament. But soccer is not only about watching the world's greatest players compete on the biggest stage. The sport transcends the elite level and is really the people's game.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
            
              A child tries to stop the ball as he plays soccer near a mural of Diego Maradona in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Men play soccer in front of a war-damaged building in the stadium in the city of Irpin, Ukraine Saturday Nov. 13, 2022, which was badly damaged by the Russian army during their occupation. (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko)
            
              People play football at Tundikhel as Dharahara tower is seen in the background in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. The World Cup begins this weekend in Qatar and the attention of the soccer world will be on the first Middle Eastern nation to host the tournament. But soccer is not only about watching the world's greatest players compete on the biggest stage. The sport transcends the elite level and is really the people's game.(AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
            
              Children play soccer in an open space in Harare, Zimbabwe, Sunday, Nov, 13, 2022. The World Cup begins this weekend in Qatar and the attention of the soccer world will be on the first Middle Eastern nation to host the tournament. But soccer is not only about watching the world's greatest players compete on the biggest stage. The sport transcends the elite level and is really the people's game.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

LONDON (AP) — The World Cup begins this weekend in Qatar and the attention of the soccer world will be on the first Middle Eastern nation to host the tournament.

But football is not only about watching the world’s greatest players compete on the biggest stage. The sport transcends the elite level and is really the people’s game.

Children and adults alike have kickabouts — some in organized matches at the grassroots level and others just for the fun of it on dirt roads and beaches. Wherever they can really.

Some play barefoot or in sandals because they can’t afford the expensive footwear that professionals use.

A boy in Buenos Aires tries to make a save with a huge mural of late Argentina great Diego Maradona on a building in the background. A group of girls in the United States play on a field wearing rainbow-colored socks. Afghan boys dribble on rocky and dusty ground in Kabul.

Ultimately, all you need is a ball and a desire to play the beautiful game.

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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AP PHOTOS: Soccer transcends elite level as World Cup nears