FOOTBALL

Original in Assamese: Harekrishna Deka
Translation: Bibekananda Choudhury

Sunrise Club has been reigning long in the league. Unbeaten for last five years. As if it is their inherited right. The Sundance Club has tried over and over, but to no avail. Sundance Club is not a newly formed one, only newly christened so. A few officials deserted Sunrise Club because of internal feud and bought a weak club gasping for breath in an effort to give it a new lease of life, rechristened it in an attempt to make it a just rival for Sunrise Club. There was no hesitation in pumping money. Wherever the talent search committee spotted a promising player, they picked him up in no time. But in spite of all efforts, they still could not budge Sunrise Club from the top. The Sundance Club though apparently lacked nothing, it actually lacked a proper coach. This time a new coach has arrived. He was a team member of a champion club. Had a stint of training abroad too. In his first observation of their match practice, he commented; ‘No, no. it won’t do if you play like machines. Got to be creative. You need surprise. Need to develop progressive mindset’ etc. etc.

The rules of training changed completely. He said, ‘Merely hitting the football by foot is not the game. One has to play it in the head too simultaneously’. One of them who is an expert header, interjected, ‘Yes sir, I like to score with my header’. The trainer raised his eyebrows, looked at him and said, ‘You are right. But I did not speak of playing with head in the sense. I spoke of the brain. The ball physically stays at the feet, but the brain controls it. Got it?’ The players were dumbstruck at the parallel he drew of aggressive game – ‘Have you noticed flowing water? As you charge along towards the opponent’s goal, your movement must match that. The water is flowing rapidly. It tears along or push aside any obstruction that it encounters on its way. But as humans are not water current, we need for that total coordination of the entire team, flawless movement and the skill and technique to dodge past the obstacles. I would teach you the techniques. But we need to study and learn the strength and weaknesses of our adversaries. We have to watch minutely the footage of each game they played during the last few years – of the team as an entity, and of each individual player. You have to surprise them. The greatest point of concern is that player who actually plays the least, runs the least, but who uses not only his feet but also his hands. Yes, I am referring to the goalkeeper.

He had a point. An expert goalkeeper saves goals repeatedly, concedes only a few. Scorer and goal making players has to frame innovative techniques to beat such custodians. There is no dispute that the custodian of Sunrise Club is a top goalkeeper. A strong shot is just not enough to pierce through his defence, he is to be beaten with ingenuity. His name is Prabir, but everyone has named him Praseer – meaning ‘wall’ in local parlance. As if he is an impregnable wall placed between the two goalposts.

The smart trainer has been successful in infusing a surge of spirit in Sundance Club. Team spirit and compassion has increased manifold in the team. Everyone has started playing as a team, they have learnt to put more emphasis on community success than individual credits, but when the performance is not as par rather than passing the buck onto others started blaming oneself for ones committed faults. [Continued]


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