Wrote this sometime back for my friends but thought I should put it on the blog.
When I was a kid, I was not very good at games….frankly speaking, I never had the opportunity to play many games. The only game that I ever played was football. In fact, childhood Bengal was a football academy. From Kolkata’s maidaan to the the small muddy villages, it was football allover. From the wooden spikes to the naked feet, it was football allover. From the anklets to the crepe bandages wrapped with safety pins, it was football allover. From the twisted ankles to the badly swollen shin bones, it was football all over.
Every year the city and the towns (not the villages generally because the people in the villages wouldn’t normally have enough to drape themselves) would be draped in Green and Maroon(colours of Mohunbagan club) or Red and Yellow (colours of East Bengal club), every four years the city and towns would be draped in Blue and white (colour of Argentina) or Yellow (colour of Brazil). Practically everybody was a footballer! Even if somebody did not play, HE had something to say about the game. (Frankly speaking Bengalis play a very few of the “games” on which they have a strong view). The HE is capitalised here to point out that Bengali women were completely missing from this area of having a view on football. The women grew up attending music or dance classes, learning how to cook and getting ready to become a good marriageable “package” right from childhood. Once they are married, they concentrate on controlling the lout who happened to spend time mostly outside the house solving away all strategic worldly affairs. This lout is the husband.
By the way, all that is history now. People do not discuss football and girls are not limited to the home. Its cricket and its Mamata Banerjee.
Anyways, I was digressing a bit too much. My point was “Practically everybody was a footballer!” so finding a place in the class team, college team was always difficult. Given my physique which was several times worse (read thinner) than what you see now, football was a difficult game for me. Well, that is what people thought when they would look at me to decide whether I could join the team or not. Certain answer was a no. I figured out a strategy to ensure I was in the team because I knew that once I was in team I would give my team ample reasons to continue having me in the team. The strategy was, I said I play in the wings (a winger sticks to the right or left flank of the ground during the game).Nobody wanted to play in the wings. Everybody wanted to be in the middle. Everybody wanted to be a midfielder, a forward! But, I said I would play in the left wing. Playing in the left wing meant you’ve got to be able to kick with your left foot. I was lucky to be able to kick with both my feet. So there I was, giving my team a proposition to play in a position where nobody would play! Normally amateur football happens in the middle with everybody chasing the ball around the middle, the flanks remained empty. There lied my opportunity. I took the ball right down from the bottom and went past the midfield upto the corner of the opponents side. Nobody stopped me because every player of the opponent was stuck in the middle of the field! By the time I reached the other end, the opponent players would rush from the middle towards me in the side to prevent me from scoring. Now the middle would get empty. I simply lobbed the ball and centered it in front of my forward who would wait in front of the goal, unmanned and then a smooth header or a slow nudge saw the goal!
I scored a goal only on rare occasions but I had to adpot this weird strategy to ensure I was in the team. To ensure that I could strategically be at a place where no one else wants to be and yet have a ball!! I enjoyed my game.