I eagerly await the Sunday morning text I know is coming. The whole week has been mounting to this day. My phone beeps. I open it like an excited boy on Christmas morning tearing of the wrapping to his present.
“Soccer at four gents! Whose in?”
The text comes from my friend and co-founder of Soccer Sunday’s. We started it together in high school and it just grew over the years. I don’t reply because it is known that I will be there. Him and I are the regulars, the founders that never miss a weekend no matter what may happen. Crappy weather, big games in the BPL, plagued by the flu or worse and we are still there. Week in and week out and the love for soccer, the passion that burns for the game, the craving to play takes over. It is game day, finally!
I pitch at his place an hour before kickoff. Go over the in’s and out’s of who will be playing. Tally up the numbers. Make last minute calls to slackers. Jam a game or two of FIFA on the PC before driving down road to the Mark’s Park indoor court situated in Emmarentia, Jozi. Why I love our spot is because firstly it’s cheap. If twelve guys pitch its 30 bucks each. Secondly we get the court to ourselves for as long as we want, floodlights included. Great deal for our bucks. Thirdly its football. Who wouldn’t be happy.
Arrive at the court, lace up, some guys sip a beer or two, kick around and wait for the numbers to pull in. We tell them four because we know we will only start at five. People and their time management skills are shoddy to say the least but hey we make it work. Balls to the walls and the Soccer Sunday teams are chosen. Before you know it the game is in full swing and damn it feels like heaven.
At every game we have the regular characters. You all know them if you too play indoor footie. Can you spot yourself amongst the line up?
The Over-Theatrical Keeper
He wears the gloves, the scrum cap, and the brightly colored shirt. The goals are small yet he makes them look bigger than they should. Diving like an Olympic high board diver at full stretch to stop a slow rolling shot – the judges votes are in… eight’s all round. He swears under his breath. Grabbing balls out of the air and falling to the ground like he scores a try. A small time cross comes in and he towers above everyone with a mean dragon punch that would send Goku to his knees. Sliding into players running at him. He is allowed to. He is the keeper. But should he be calling those fouls? I think not. Over dramatic in all areas of his tiny box. He thinks he is unbeatable. Until I curl one around his weaker left side and into the net. He kicks the post and shoots me a death stare. What a diva!
The Lazy Trickster
Dazzling footwork, dribbling skills and the pace of a cheetah to boot makes this guy hard to tackle. He always manages to draw the foul. I understand you are great and what you do but can you pass the ball? I was open. I was screaming for it. He will dribble the whole team and lose it to the last defender. Idiot! He just stops, sulks and watches as they counter and score against us. Like hello? Can you run back you lazy-CR7-wannabe-tool? But then again we don’t even want him to play defense because he thinks he can dribble in his own box. Pull it off and yeah you are a champion. If you don’t it just spells trouble.
We play social soccer so it is understandable to not have a huge degree of professionalism. You need to pee, needing a sip of water or beer you walk of during the game and get it done. No one is going to reprimand you. But then you get him, the socialite, who blatantly walks off during an intense period of the game to light a smoke and make phone calls. After a few shouts from team players he runs back on smoke and phone in hand and decides to play whilst doing both. He stands in the corner asking for the pass. The ball rolls towards him he turns his back on it and chats away to some guy on the phone. Or he looks ready to receive the ball catches a glimpse of female booty walking past stops and stares, begins to flirt as the ball gets taken away from him. Irritable!
The Annoying Manager
So if the socialite takes Soccer Sunday lightly this is the guy who takes it way too seriously. Whilst playing he will be screaming his head of at what you should be doing. Get back! Pass it! Make the run! Defend! What’s wrong with you! Can you tackle? Watch the runner! Sub off! Pass it now! I feel like my ears are going to explode. And if you don’t adhere to his instruction a verbal lashing of vulgar insults come flying your way. When you do something right he tells you how to do it better. When he messes up and you reprimand him he begins another verbal rampage on why you shouldn’t critic his playing style. Such a hypocrite. Let me play my game and you play yours. What makes matters worse is if he is on the sidelines he still has his mangers cap on. Can someone just shut him up already.
The Drunken Master
There is always one guy who drinks too much during the day and rocks up like a rocking horse, wobbling back and forth but very adamant he can play. Whilst playing on the field or in posts a huge quart is seared shut in his hand – used as a weapon. He slides when he tries to tackle – a big no-no in indoor – very dangerous. He falls over when he tries to shoot – beer unspoiled. He is just a slobbering, stinking slob of a player and on a few occasions has been known to shit himself. We all have that one guy in our group. It’s a shame really. Rarely he will pull off something out of this world and that’s why he is the master!
The Boy Who Cries Wolf
Don’t go near him when he has the ball. Slightest of touches and he rolls on the floor clutching his ankle when you know you just brushed his thigh. He shoots the ball directly into the guy’s hand that is literally a step in front of him and shouts handball. He cries for everything. After a while you stop believing his shenanigans until you realize he actually has fractured his ankle this time. Guess that’s what you get for being a wolf crier.
He is the one guy that has a rugby player physique but likes football. I get that it is a physical game and we should man up but come one! He towers above you and body weight feels more like a wrecking ball breaking your ribs. His huge foot stomps down on you like a jackhammer. He brushes you a side with his thick arm and it feels like a close line. A small bump to the side and you fly face first into the surrounding nets. Branded with lines across your bloody face. He is a mean son of a gun. I always try to get him on my team first.
The Selfish Substitute
At times we get an overdose of players and we have to incorporate rolling subs. This way we all get a turn to play. It is fair. It is a great way to keep the game going if players get fatigued due to their lack of fitness. So you sub off knowing you will get subbed back on again soon. Not unless you have the selfish sub on your bench. He waits his turn to come on. Normally in ten minutes burst another would sub off and you keep it rotating. Not him. He refuses to leave once he is on. He will be panting, nearly passed out on the ground, unable to do anything but still refuse to get his butt off. You have to literally walk on and drag him by the collar just so he will get the message. Selfishness is something you get taught at home. Sharing is caring. His parents really need to discipline him.
We have simple rules during our Soccer Sunday sessions. No sliding, no studs and we say not to blasting. I mean you can shoot but not over blast it when you are one on one with the keeper like 2 meters out. It doesn’t make sense and you could really hurt the guy. But as usual there is that one guy, the rebel, who disobeys the rules. He has a sweet right boot. His power is unmatchable. We all know that. Just tell that to my brother who had both his wrists broken consecutively when he stood in the goals and this guy blasted one from just inside the box. The first time was painful to see. He got surgery, healed up wore wrist guard, returned three months later and wouldn’t you know the guy blasted again and poof goes the other wrist. I did tell him to stay out of goals but stubbornness is just as stupid as blasting. So remember, NO BLASTING!
Finally I can get around to the real roles. The real lineup that makes the team great. If we didn’t have these characters polluting our games maybe it would be better but we make it good no matter what. Characters are no characters, Soccer Sunday will always be the second love of my life. My girlfriend is always number one! I miss her so much!
The Super Striker – dribbling legend, assisting comes naturally, great goal scoring record.
The Rock Star Defender – always stays back, always stopping the counters, capable of finding the pass.
The Midfield Maestro – conducting play, organizing attacks, finds strikers with ease, not lazy to defend.
And then there is me:
The All-Rounder Founder
I am not bragging. I swear! I am capable of playing each role needed to take a team to victory. I play the defense and move my way out into the midfield and before you know it I’m latching onto a pass upfront and tucking it away. And the opposite direction when I loose the ball up front I am sprinting back to make the tackle and even clearing balls of the line to save the goal. I pace up and down the wings or make a gut-bursting lunge through the middle to scoop up the loose pass. I never stop playing. I sub when I really have to. When we venture past the second hour of playing and most guys call for a rest break, I will be alone on the pitch still practicing shots and running around.
Soccer Sunday’s has always brought me great times, unforgettable memories and a variety of friends that come and go. It always made the week bearable because I knew Sunday would be worth it. Although I haven’t played in about 6 months since my move to CT I still managed to find a place here to dabble in footie. It might not be the same kind of rush like Soccer Sunday’s gave me but it is something, it is football, it will always be part of my life.