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No Fun In It

The other day, the high school boys’ football team began the long journey to the National Games by playing in the city-level Division Meet. In true Pinoy style, there were four days to the meet; but the football competition involving three teams was played just on the final day. Lovely... But this is the Philippines... We rather tend to do things our way...

Again in true Pinoy style, the matches were played one after the other, with less than an hour’s rest in-between. The sports doctors at FIFA will have convulsions if they ever find out; but I am not complaining. There are things you just learn to take in stride over the years.

The first match early in the morning was between Canossa Academy and a school named BCAS. No disrespect meant, but the first time I saw the latter’s players, I thought they were an elementary team. I heard later it was made up mostly of high school freshmen, the age group of our second high school team. The game ended 6-nil in favor of Canossa.

In less than an hour, it was our turn to face up to Canossa. It was past eleven when I left my office to go to the field and watch the game. Training as we do in cool late afternoons, midday encounters rather tend to be tricky for the boys because of the rigors of dehydration.

Still, Canossa had already played one game; our boys were fit, ready and raring to go. It was very comfortable in the end; albeit, 13-nil flattered us a little. We should have had the game dead and buried right in the first half, but the strikers were too uptight to put away the sitting ducks set up for them by their teammates. In the second half, the floodgates just simply opened.

Everyone had less than an hour to grab a bite and re-hydrate; and I myself picked something out from the cafeteria cursorily. Before long, somebody text-ed me to say our second game – against BCAS – was about to start.

By the time I got to the field, the game was already five minutes old – and we were already up by three. The boys kept pressing forward; in no time at all, we were up by eight. There was still a long way before the end of the half, but there was never any doubt about who would win this game. It was time to send in the substitutes.

We even asked the defenders and the strikers to exchange positions so that the latter could get some deserved rest. A lot of good that did BCAS; the defenders – if anything – were hungrier for goals and just kept going forward for more.

I thought we “only” scored 26; but the referee said 28. I honestly did not care anymore. My mind kept wandering to other things while the game was going on. It was not fun to watch the opposing goalkeeper picking the ball up from inside the goal every few minutes. In the early afternoon heat, I wanted nothing more than for the game to end.

A pity there was nobody from Guinness to witness the slaughter. I am reasonably certain that the result is a record of some sort in the modern game. It is not the sort of result that is normal to football. That said, it is not the sort of scoreline one gets satisfaction from, either.

The real fun in sport is to be able to pit one’s wits and sinews against another, and aiming to win. Corollary to that aim is the knowledge that one can also lose; hence, the motivation to try harder.

In this match against the youngsters from BCAS, the goals kept coming even if our team never really got out of second gear. There was no fun to be had from knowing there could but be one result to the match.

There is the question, of course, of whether there was wisdom in fielding such a young and raw team in competition at all. The other side can always argue that they were there just for the experience. On the other hand, what benefit can there possibly be – in sporting terms – from a horrible experience?

We could not – naturally – tell our own boys to ease up. That would have been totally contradictory to what they were taught. As things were, I thought our boys were utterly considerate in not using their physical advantage against their smaller and younger opponents.

Those willing boys from BCAS – they were running till the final whistle – will hopefully never be beaten again by such a humiliating scoreline again. Sport being what it is – i.e. something of the mind as well as of the body – I hope the boys will not be scarred for life by the mauling they took from us.

The key to success in football – as in other sports – is if one derives enjoyment from it. Just as there can be no fun throwing a punch at somebody down and bloodied on the canvass, neither is there any fun in not being able to throw a punch at all.

I hope the boys from BCAS will one day be back to give us a proper game. It can only be good for all concerned.

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