Ahmad Ali

reliable source of wise counsel

Why your teacher made Abah lose sleep

Yesterday, 25th January 2011, was a day for you to remember. A day for you to be a part of something that you had come prepared with hours of training, kickabout during recess and Sunday futsal with the big boys. You are no Fandi Ahmad, but you put in the effort and gave it a go.

Early in the month, you were so happy to had been selected for the school soccer team by the curricular teacher(remember, im referring him as a curricular teacher – CT – and not a coach). The tournament would kick off end of the month. As the week went by and few trainings later, you were then told that you would be a substitute that might not be used. You didnt seem perturbed although the same couldnt be said about your father. How could a person designed to teach and motivate a child, especially at your age, said that. You were motivated still and insisted that you arrived for training ten minutes early, no less. I decided that there was still time and that we would work together on it.

The night before the game, you were nervous. Wondering what you should be doing, how you would do it. You had prepared your gear in advance. You didnt want to be late and be told that you couldnt come along. I asked you about how rifki was coping. You said with a laugh that during recess, rifki held his hands up and doa,

“Ya Allah, tolonglah saya bila main bola nanti.” – something like that. I laughed harder. You mosquitoes!

So your mum took half day off, hopped into a cab after a last minute meeting, to see you play. I was there 10 minutes earlier at the designated school. You were with a bunch of your friends who had been relegated as reserves. No problem. As I told you, substitutes had major impact on the team during the game because they were fresh. They were unknown to the opponent and that they would take time to adjust to you.

Your friends came over to salam me. Quite unexpected but very heartening. I decided to make that a happy occassion for you guys and took a photo. Somehow, i was left with a video. You guys were happy although the legs were very itchy to play.

Did we just wasted our time?
The game was about to start and I entered the field. I met up with your CT and shook his hand. He asked me who was my child and I told him your name. No pressure to put you in…ahem. I asked him how many aside and he replied 9.

“Wah! then our reserves can make another team!”, I said.
“Actually, I just need this 9. The rest no need…”, he said trailing off. He must had realised what he was saying.

I didnt want to make things awkward. The game was about to start and your team, your friends, was more important at that point. Whistle blew, and a minute into the game, you guys scored! WUHOOO!!! When I realised that your mother had arrived, your school was already 3 nil up. Man, you guys were tearing the opponent apart. CT had to restrain the bench from saying “Alah kacang.” Frankly, that shouldnt happened as well. You guys will learn.

On the field, your friends were looking lethargic. It had rained earlier, the socks and boots were heavy. This was their first match, and it was clear match fitness was lacking. Still, CT decided to let them be on the field although a couple were breathless already. Not my place, not my team. I kept quiet about it although I was vocal in support, giving pointer here and there. Breath I told them. I cant help it. Sometime during the game, CT told a sub to bring 9 bottles of mineral water to the field.

Time to motivate – well it should had been
By half-time, we were already 5-0 up. The subs were heard telling CT that they wanted to play. CT told the subs to go play. The subs were overjoyed. I think they misconstrued the sentence. So while you guys were playing, the first team were told to sit on the bench. He told them that they were doing a good job. Frankly, that was all that I could remember. He then called two subs back to the bench. One was overjoyed and very very itchy and couldnt sit still. CT told him since he didnt listen, he wouldnt be playing.

I could see you coming over to look at CT. Not once, twice, but four times. Putting your face there to be selected. Each time overlooked. When the subs came back, I overheard CT saying maybe putting them in the last 5 minutes. I didnt see CT using a stopwatch or anything of the like.

So for the second half, one sub went it. ONLY ONE! We were 5-0 up, the first nine were visibly tired, and CT made one change. Is this his first time?

The game was getting harder in the second half. Opponent must had gotten a rollicking from their coaches. There were 3 of them! In one of their attacks, we conceded a penalty. Our keeper was looking towards us. He was looking at CT. He must had been asking what to do. CT said nothing. I didnt have any choice.

“Look at the ball! Do not move yet. Just look at the ball all the time!”

He swiftly turned his head, stooped and look on straight, diligently at the ball. The opponent ran and kicked. The ball, to my surprise, left the ground. It was going into the top right of the goal. Our keeper swiftly palmed the ball away. You heard my shout of joy??? 5-0 was still intact.

In a counter attack, we scored a sixth. I couldnt tahan. I told CT your boys are tired upfront. They are losing balls and we are getting wave and wave of attack. He changed one. ONE!

With five minutes left, I told him that the opponent was attacking on a single side and our boy was spent.

“I dont want to change the defence. This is their first game. I want them to get to know one another. I do not have anyone else who could play in the position.”

Pffffttt. I know my son is not up to par as compared to what I had seen on the field. And I am not pushing you to put him in. However, at 7-0 up, dont you think, you should take the opportunity to know more about the other players? See if they can perform in THAT position. When would there be a better time???

Final whistle blew. You guys were overjoyed. As we were packing, a sub went to CT and asked whether he could have a drink off the mineral water. CT said,

“You guys brought your own water bottle right? Go fill it up.”

He looked down and walked away.

“I bought this for the first team.” CT murmured to me.


As I was about to go, you came to look at me and said,

“I have got 8 games!”

I smiled. I know you must had been very sad. You cried when they didnt select you during the national under-12 selections. Was this a bold front? Were you motivating yourself?

“Yes!” I replied.

That evening I was bothered by the days events, especially by what CT had said. His mind was already set. I pity the 11 odd faces. I could hear their chiming for a minute in the game. I couldnt sleep. I was lucky, or unlucky for your uncle yan, that I could for 3 hours forget about it. Yesterday night, I had to send your uncle yan to the hospital to have his hand cast. When I got back, your mum was still doing work at 4am. I tossed and turned and ^%*E()FF(*^$. Your mum laughed each time.

“Go and write an email to him!” she said.

Like I will.

I will be there next tuesday to support you and your friends. In all honesty, when CT made the first comment, I had wanted to bring you home. I will take this as long as I can. That evening I spoke to you about the day’s event. In the end you said,

“Abah, coach said that I will play.”

So I heard.

Next day Update
On Wednesday @ 3.30pm, journey home from school after your av extra in preparation for CNY 2011.

Abah : How was it today?
Amirul : Well, I thot av was easy but ah I have to change the chairs, close the curtain, move the props…blah blah blah

OK, I think was asking about the game yesterday and how he was feeling today and if anything happened in school. Budak ni cakap pasal audio video pulak! Maybe I was not clear enough.

Abah : Anyone spoke about the game yesterday?
Amirul : Miss Wong. She said that we have 3 guys in our class involve in the soccer tournament. And she told the class who we were.
Abah : Then what happened?
Amirul : They asked about the score and I said we won 7-0. Everyone was wah wah like that.
Abah : How you feel?
Amirul : Very happy.
Abah : Happy?
Amirul : Yes because for that moment I was the center of attention.


Abah : How you feel about not playing?

Dad trying to find out if son was feeling down.

Amirul : Im ok. Happy. The team won what.


Amirul : Anyway I got 8 more chances to play. (referring to the 8 more games left in the league)

I looked at him. He has a smile on his face. Im feeling worse.

Amirul : That means I got 16 chances!
Abah : 16 chances?
Amirul : Yes. One game, two halves. So 16 chances!

Abah feel like hanging himself.

Abah : Good good!

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