Whenever there were trials in my school to select a school team to represent it in various tournaments, I was always given a chance to take part in selection games. I think that must have been for the fact that I was considered to be the best student in the school as far as studies were concerned, and all the teachers simply loved me. So even though they knew that I couldn’t qualify, they used to give me a chance to see for myself whether I had it in me.
The sports teacher used to ask me every time which position I would prefer to play at. I started with trying to become a goal keeper as it involved a minimum of physical effort; just stand near the goal post, and try to stop the ball from getting in to the nets. The trouble was that I had an extremely low threshold for pain, and the ball coming at me at tremendous speed used to frighten the daylights out of me. Most of the times I could not catch the ball properly and it used to collide in full force with my body. Ouch….LOL. I couldn’t even kick the stationary ball properly because we used to play football with bare feet, and I could seldom aim properly. Many a times my big toe used to get scraped badly by the rough ground (no grass, mind you). That would normally be the end of my trials as a goal keeper, and I would quit with blood on my big toe and tears in my eyes.
Then I tried a few times to play as a defender. The problem I faced was the size of the forwards of the opposite team, and I intelligently used to avoid tackling them. Why bother getting selected for a sport which might cause you injury and pain? Heavens wouldn’t fall if they netted the ball! At least, I would go home uninjured. The few times I summoned up courage to stand up to those towering giants, a kick on my shin would be enough to make me get rid of the misplaced bravado and retire hurt.
Finding myself lacking in those positions, I tried my hand, or rather my foot, at being a forward. But I was no fool, and had an uncanny eye for hidden patterns of the game. I knew that actual goals occurred rarely, and most of the times the ball would bounce back and forth from the opponents’ half to our half, even without my untiring efforts. So as soon as the defenders of the opposite team snatched the ball away from my possession, I used to run back towards the centre line knowing all the while that the ball would come towards me in no time, and I would have another chance. If their forwards left me behind while rushing towards my goal post, I displayed full confidence in the defenders of my team and loitered near the centre line knowing that they would eventually kick the ball towards me. If they failed, well, it was their fault that a goal was conceded. So the game would proceed with ball swinging from near one goal post to another, and I oscillating like a pendulum around the half line with a much smaller amplitude. This congenital tendency to accomplish much with a minimum of effort has turned me in to a super efficient machine at what I like to do.
It took a few attempts, a few bruises and lots of tears, but I eventually understood that I was not destined to play football by the time I passed middle school.