Writing,they say inspires.I hope this inspires both of us,just enough.Not like those over enthusiaistic things that run around everywhere.Nothing inspires better than our own past.At least for me.
I was undecided on whether to touch upon this or not.But Rai's comment about not playing football and the motivation to play it again made me write this.Ironically both of us had quit playing after the same match during which we were shouted upon and substituted.One bad day is all it took.We played in small groups and grounds later,but that was nothing like running on the entire stretch of the field.Quite symbolically the No. 9 jersey bearing my name(I was quick,I was considered good,I was the forward,hence the number) that I wore was lost by someone I lent it too,I kind of lost my name.I quit playing and haven't seen the main ground for an year;him too.
I look back at the first day of the NSO course we had to do for one year.My first priority was cricket and I was selected in the first 30 but let out in the final 15 for the day.I had chosen to bowl instead of batting.I was a better bat but for reasons I have already mentioned before,I chose otherwise.My next choice was football.After just 5 minutes of trial my name was noted,Rai's too.With 20 odd other future teammates.
The first day with the team.We had small matches on half the pitch.I scored 4 goals,still remember how I did.Apparently even Rai remembers one of them as being good when I turned,stopped,waited and shot.Sir immediately decided that I was going to play ahead.And he reserved special taunts for me when I didn't do all that well.Rai was the only one who could play both left foot and right but his talent was hardly utilised.Mostly beacuse he was too lazy to turn up for the course,2 days in a week.It became more of a schedule for me too,and I started bunking.
I missed the hostel team practices,Rai never turned up.I was made the substitute for the hostel team.Sir was very hurt when he heard about that.He lectured me for around 15 minutes,in front of 10 odd people.Said something on the lines of Carl Lewis not being allowed to go for his fourth gold medal in 400 mts (?) beacuse he hadn't qualified for it in the U.S team itself.This when he was the defending champ I presume.My what-the-hell attitude laughed that off with my friends when I came back.Only now I realise that it meant much more than a comment on not making to the first team.Much,much more.
Seeing all those football videos that are trickling into the LAN,the lost fire is being rekindled.I just watched a repeat of the ManU-Munich UEFA match,which I had watched live in '99,waking up until 2 for that.How I loved football,and then how I dreaded playing it again.
Non-committal and brilliant.Responsibilty and abysmal.Synonyms for me.
Anyway I hope this post will inspire me (and him) enough to take up football again.Not to try and achieve anything,but for the pure joy that it offers.We may not be good enough,but amateurs should be given that much freedom.To try and do the Zidane roulette,the Ronaldinho passes,the Shevchenko runs,Rooney volleys,Gerrard long shots,Nistelrooy headers or Adriano's dead ball expertise.Fail yet continue to try.
I will end with the description my first goal,lest I forget.No one is going to write about that,so I very well thought I might:
I took the field after a gap of many days.The usual left wing position.Think Figo,think Giggs,think anyone you wish.But just to get an idea of the position and type of role I was supposed to play,not the talent.We were trailing 3-2.I was near the halfway line when the ball was passed from the right wing.There were calls of offside,but I was not.Forgetting how bad I had been playing and what I was supposed to do,I just ran with the ball.Took an angle that closed in to the goal.I ran half the pitch with the ball and no one overtook me.I was running like the wind,I was the wind! There were calls to pass the ball.I wasn't passing this time.I got near the D-edge area.The goalie was on the near post to cut the angle.I shot.The ball glided into the top left corner of the near end.A goal.Satisfying as any could be.
I just ran back and took my position.No celebrations.I knew I owed a goal to the team.I just did what was so long coming.No reason to celebrate.That should have spurred me one to play further but I didn't.I just slipped away.Like I so often have.For the record we lost 6-4.