Stepping Up to the Big Leagues

Memba Ben By Memba Ben, 20th Dec 2017 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

My friends and I took on some pro footballers in a match to see if if the average Joe could hold his own.

Is football as easy as we think it is?

I love football.

From the joy to the heartbreak, it is one hell of a roller coaster ride. Unfortunately for me, I was never quite good enough to play but I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying the sport so in the place of playing it, I made it a point to take in everything else about it. Whether it be watching football of the highest level to watching young children having a kick about; I didn’t care as I was just happy I was able to experience it.

I know a guy who plays in the South African Premiership (arguably one of the biggest leagues in Africa) and while he himself is a good player (he has been capped as a youth international, won domestic trophies, has played in the continental cup final), he’s not a regular starter for his club. I mean sure, he gets game time every now and then but he’s not the first name on the team sheet.

Whenever his team played in our province, Grant would come pay me a visit and we’d do a quick catch up and one time; I’d invited him to come and hang out with the gents and I to which he agreed. I let the gents know I had a friend on the team who I’d invited over and being the huge football fans they are, they were clamoring to meet him.

Grant showed up and…the gents were not impressed. Maybe they were expecting one of the star players from the team, maybe they were expecting one of the more well-known personalities; I’ll never know.

But who showed up did not match their expectations.

I love my boys but they are idiots. For some odd reason, they took it that because he wasn’t a starter, Grant couldn’t call himself a pro footballer and implied that any Tom, Dick or Harry could’ve been in the same position he found himself in.

Now, knowing the gents as well as I did; I took it as them just goofing around but Grant understandably took it as a slight and who could blame him? The gents were essentially crediting his accomplishments and achievements to luck. The remarks must’ve gotten to Grant because he ended up challenging my friends to a match.

Determined to prove their point, the gents eagerly agreed and a date was set. I decided to tag along because being the football addict I am, I never pass up the opportunity to have a kick about.

Besides, the opportunity to brag about beating a bunch of Premiership players was too great to pass up

My boys and I were feeling pretty bullish about our chances. We are in fantastic shape, we weren’t going to be playing the full ninety minutes and they didn’t know who we were or how we played. We felt that at worst, it would be a competitive loss.

Match day came and to say that we were fired up would be a gross understatement. The gents and I arrived early to warm up and by the end of the session; our outlook on our chances had changed from:

We can do this
We’ve got this

Grant and his team showed up and to our slight disappointment, instead of bringing players that we knew; he had brought along a couple of teammates from the reserve side.

Although it wasn’t the big scalp we were hoping to claim, bragging rights were still up for grabs and if anything else, seeing that we were about to play some bench warmers made us believe that the win was in the bag.

This is gonna be a walk in the park…

It is said that the less talented a player is, the further back they are positioned down the field. This is because that while defending in itself is an art, at the end of the day; it is less about individual talent and more about organizational structure and player positioning. Playing as an attacker requires a high level of creativity, flair, guile and skill that for the most part can’t be taught.

Why am I saying all of this?

Well, Grant is a defender. Defenders are taught to never wander up the pitch unnecessarily and aside from set pieces; few defenders have the ability to be an attacking threat so because of how important this match was to both sides and with Grant’s side being mostly comprised of wing backs and defenders; we figured they would sit back and let us have most of the ball to do the attacking.

As karma would have it, things wouldn’t work that way.

The opposition might’ve been mostly made up of defenders and such but that didn’t mean that they didn’t know how to attack. Come to think of it, their worst attacking play during the match was a billion times better than our best effort.

To put it simply, these guys obliterated us.

These bastards, who can’t even get into their own first team, were playing like Barcelona. Scoring at will, ghosting past our defense, humiliating everyone with skills; you name it, it happened. By the fourth goal, our team walked off in disgust. Not because of the score line but rather that they brutally murdered our hopes by beating us so comprehensively.

The bastards didn’t have the decency to play to our level to so that we could keep our hopes up. They didn’t even allow us to score one goal. ONE GOAL!

They were bullies but one could argue it was what we deserved. After all that rubbish we were spouting, it was only fair that we were cut down to size but I guess it comes with being a person who doesn't actively play but rather watches the game.

It can be very easy to say that a player is useless or brings nothing to the team but we forget that these guys play at an incredibly high level with a fast pace to match and with such things in play, there is no room for error.

Many hopeful players come and go with the hope of turning pro. These guys, the ones we as fans are happy to call rubbish; they are the cream of the crop. You need to be very good to play football at a professional level, never mind playing on an international stage.

My boys and I learnt that valuable lesson when we played Benchwarmers F.C. Even at the worst, they were head and shoulders above us.

It was like seeing a bunch of pub footballers taking on some professionals…


Football, Soccer, True Story

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author avatar Memba Ben
A fan's view on the business of football.

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