Whistle blows. The opponents are leading, 1-0. The game kicks off again after they scored a goal, and only about 5 minutes remain in the game. In a few seconds, one of our girls intercept a pass. She passes the ball to another player to her right, she dribbles the ball, beats couple of their players and takes the ball to their half. It’s a good chance and I run to cover ground on the opposite side. We are almost halfway into their box. And then there is a fierce tackle by a girl in the opposition and my teammate is down, due to the tackle, badly injured.
The referee, blows the whistle and pulls out the yellow card to the opposition girl. There is a huge huddle between players. And by the time, the referee calms everyone down, the clock shows 87:01 and it’s just 3 minutes remaining. And maybe to add to that, one minute of extra time.
It’s been a fierce rivalry between the two colleges, one that has a long history. Last year, we suffered a humiliating loss at their hands, and there was a big fight. They eventually went onto win the tournament. But this time, we just needed to draw, as we are already ahead in the points table. If we lose, it will hurt our chances of going to the knockouts.
After their lead, the opponents are brimming with confidence. And I missed a crucial chance to score a goal, and that resulted in not only us, not scoring, but that mistake made them go and score their goal. Maybe, I shouldn’t have played this game. It all happened due to him, my best friend, Deepan.
I was severely down after my boyfriend was diagnosed with cancer and he passed away. He was the best thing that happened to me. After he left me, I mourned his loss, I felt empty inside once he was gone. Before two years, I scored the winning goal against the same team. But due to my boyfriend’s death, I skipped the tournament, last year. I had no plans to join, this time around too.
The team always welcomed me. But I was somehow not in the mood to go out and play. I just didn’t feel the need. There was no zeal in my life anymore. Forget about going out to play, I even had stopped to go to movies, shopping, etc.
I did a similar drama, this time around too, as Deepan calls it. I told my team that I wasn’t in the mood to play any football.
So, one fine morning, when i heard a doorbell, I went to answer it. To my shock, I saw him along with a few friends from the football team, in their jerseys and told me, there was a practice match and I was coming along with them.
I felt shocked. I didn’t know what to do and I denied.
So Deepan told me “Now, shut the hell up and come with us. You are playing this season and our college is going to win. Did you get that? Now, we didn’t come here to ask your permission, we came here to take you along. Now go and get ready, you have got 10 minutes.
After this, I had no other choice and not willing to face further embarrassment in front of everyone, I got ready and went with them. That’s how it all started. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have come to this tournament and missed this crucial goal in this match.
In dejection, I saw Deepan near the line. He shouted, “Come on, Kriti. Thinking is for home. This is a playground. Go out, play and score a goal for us” he said, in a commanding voice.
As annoying as he seems, he sometimes pushes me forward.
All of a sudden, I feel more confident and energetic and more desperate to score a goal.
That’s when the whistle blows, it’s our kick, but we fail to capitalize. One of our girls were marked by four girls from the opposition. They locked her in, and made sure she couldn’t pass. And the opposition put pressure on her and had the ball, they were on the offense, as everyone from our team was almost in the middle and our defenses were pretty weak now, as our objective was to somehow score a goal at the final stages.
But it’s bad news, they have the ball and are passing along and one of their girls is running hard, dribbling and beating our defenses. That’s when one of our girls intercepted her with a sliding tackle and she got the ball and passed it to the right. The opponent girl fell down and they appealed for a free kick. The referee didn’t agree, but we got few crucial moments of distraction due to that. I saw the time, it was past 90 minutes and we were already into extra time, Now only around 35 seconds remain.
That’s when I got a long pass from the girl. I knew this was do or die, I controlled the ball, dribbled it, and beat their midfield defenses and had a great run. It was probably the best run of my life.
Then all of a sudden, I broke the rhythm of running towards the right corner and went towards the goal post, Since I had girls lining up at the corner, once I passed them, I didn’t face lot of defense. I dribbled the ball, beating a couple of girls as I went into the penalty box.
Then I saw the goal keeper’s eyes to see which direction she might be diving. But she was too smart and started charging towards me. That was it, it was do or die. I managed to dribble past the diving goal keeper and kicked the ball into the goal post. I saw the time, there was still 1 second remaining.
I raised my arm in victory and our entire team mates jumped on top of me. It was a sweet moment. The crowd erupted, we had a big crowd that day.
After all, I saw Deepan and waved my hand towards him, gesturing a thank you message to him. He waved back, indicating an acknowledgement.
We went onto win that tournament, and I ended up being the top goal scorer in that tournament. And from where I was before that tournament, I couldn’t believe that I am now playing in the state team.
Sometimes, when things are really really down, all we need is a kick on our ass to go out of that bloody room.
Dear readers, please feel free to comment/critique my stories. It would be of immense help. In case you already don’t know, I am writing this as part of the A to Z short story challenge
Here are the other stories that I have written as part of this challenge :
Please do take your time to read and drop in your comments. Thanks.