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The Things I Tell The Boys

Many boys who trained under me will attest to the fact that I am not exactly the easiest person to get along with, particularly when things are not going right on that football field. I can be extremely difficult to please; and – like many coaches – I sometimes have my own colorful way of getting across a message.

While, in the early days, I could be impatient and even downright temperamental, I also always knew how to liven up the football field with touches of humor in what I said to the boys. This – at least, I would like to think – I have not lost with the passage of time.

When a player makes a pass too strong for the receiver to chase after, I may tell the passer to give the intended recipient of the ball a Honda. This quip is by no means original. Back when I was in college, my coach would always tell the players whose passes were too strong that the intended receivers needed to be on motorcycles to chase after the ball.

The very same coach was also secure enough in his own manhood to be able to express his displeasure at a player’s mistake by uttering, “Duduguin ako…!!!” The expression, of course, alludes to the female anatomy.

My players through the years know that they will be receiving a rather contradictory remark from me if they take shots at goal but miss the target miserably. The first part of the remark is encouraging, “Nice shot!” After a short pause, I always feel obligated to add, “Bad aim!”

There is nothing original to this either. I used to hear this said by my teammates to each other when I was playing in college. Even I had my moments receiving this partly encouraging and partly derogatory comment.

These days, I sometimes use a variant: “Nice shot! [Pause] Bad eyesight!”

If somebody tries a shot that soars high above the crossbar, there are many ways to express displeasure. “Try!” is a sarcastic way of letting the player know that he will have scored if he is shooting at a rugby football goal.

Or, I can ask innocently of nobody in particular, “Bumagsak na ang maya?” Some days I say kalapati. It does not really matter what bird’s name I use; the message is that the ball is high enough to have hit a flying bird. When a shot is really – as in really – high, I can even say, “Bumagsak na ang 747?”

I also sometimes place a palm over my eyebrows, pretend to look up at the skies and innocently ask the boys if the ball has fallen back to earth yet.

If a player keeps shooting – and missing – at one wrong side of the goal, I may very gently ask the very same player if he thinks we ought to invite one of the maintenance personnel over to bring an asarol and move the goal a tad to where he will score if he keeps his aim. That will be the bad aim, naturally…

We have, in the present high school team, an astonishingly lethal striker who scores goals for fun. Like all strikers, though, he also goes through bad patches, sometimes uncharacteristically missing simple tap-ins that are – in all honesty – really harder to miss. When the boy goes through one of those days, I say that he is “shooting at the outside.”

There are few things more irritating than to run all the way upfield for an attacking corner kick, only for the taker of the corner kick to send the ball behind the goal and out of play. When the same player makes the same mistake a second or third time, I may invite all the attacking players to join me behind the goal where we have a better chance of heading the ball.

When a player has not been zealous about physical training and begins to grow flab down the middle, he may be told to stay away from Purefoods hatchet men. Monterrey gets the message across fine as well…

If a player with the ball fails to make a fairly obvious pass to a well-positioned teammate, I may tell the teammate to show his ID card to the player with the ball. “Hindî ka ‘ata kilala…” Or, if a player has a tendency to hold on to the ball too much, I may suggest that we all get another ball so this player could go on using the ball to the death while we go on an play our passing game with another ball.

If a player gets hit in the head by the ball and appears dazed for a moment, I raise a finger in front of him and ask, “How many fingers to you see?” If he says two, then he is obviously concussed. If he says one, then I say I that have two fingers raised.

If a player known for missing easy goalscoring chances gets into a good position, I may holler at him “Isala mo!  Isala mo!”  If he scores, then I say, “Very good!”  And if he misses, “Isinala ngâ!”

If a player keeps slipping all over the field – worn-out studs are the frequent culprit – I say that player is selfing. There is nothing original about the word, of course, as all Batangueños will attest. Just a direct translation of the Tagalog word nagsarili.

There must be so many other things that I have already forgotten. I am sure many of the boys who played under me through the years still recall the things I used to tell them. I hope some of you boys will add to the story in the comments section of this blog entry. Not on Facebook, please; down below so others can read.

Just like many before me who have made football what it is – I just happen to subscribe to the notion that the football field should be a place of fun! Not at the expense of winning, of course; but still a place of fun!

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