Most players that have played youth soccer will have, one time or another, had the typical halftime snack that seems ubiquitous with soccer.
Before PowerBars, isotonic energy drinks and the plethora of other gimmick refueling snacks and drinks, there were oranges. Yes oranges, that little citrus fruit, was used to power soccer players back to life after the opening half of play.
Whether a player is playing in a youth league of 20 minute halves or men's league that play full-45 minute periods, oranges have long been the refreshing, sweet taste that revived soccer stars.
Statistically, oranges are a fantastic pre-game or halftime snack for dehydrated players. An orange is about 87% water. Most of that water and nutrients is lost when oranges are dried, so eating dried fruit isn't as good for an athlete during competition.
Having juicy oranges during a soccer match will definitely hydrate a player. Washing those orange slices down with water is just as good, if not better, than those expensive energy drinks, gels and bars.
Of course, oranges aren't as cool or as expensive. So, soccer players from five to 50 probably will still prefer the store bought gimmick refueling treats. Don't believe the hype, however.
The vitamin C inside an orange is good for boosting recovery and the immune system. In addition, oranges won't spike a player's blood sugar, like an energy drink or bar. Which means there is no comedown from the citrus fruit. An orange "has easily digested carbohydrates" inside it. Meaning a player's stomach shouldn't be too affected by its consumption during a game.
A 2013 report in England, a country whose eating habits are greatly influenced by the fast food society of the United States, declared that 43% of children ate incredibly poorly during the halftime of their soccer matches.
Chocolate, potato chips, candy and soda were identified as halftime snacks by children. Part of the reason for the poor food choice was money and local teams or clubs no longer providing fruit for their players.
Is there anything better than an orange?
According to FourFourTwo Magazine, there is a soccer snack that blows the orange away. A fig roll or fig bar (the non-brand name for a Fig Newton), is full of complex and simple carbohydrates. While an orange will give a boost of energy, the fig roll provides a player with evenly distributed energy levels during games. There is also plenty of sodium and potassium in each bar.
Sports nutrition guru Bob Seebohar says oranges' lack of electrolytes make fig bars a better choice for sports. Currently, there are plenty of fig bar snacks on the market and the benefits can be purchased from supermarkets across the U.S.
Despite the rise of the fig bar, and other energy bar and drink products for that matter, oranges are still a brilliant low cost, healthy option. With so many children and adults having poor eating habits today, playing soccer and munching on an orange could be the most healthy parts of their lifestyle.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @DrewMFarmer