Siobhan Chamberlain: PROVING PEOPLE WRONG

*Copied from Manchester United Website

13 December 2020 15:30

There are moments in your life when people say things to you that spur you on.

They are saying things that they believe, and that they think will help you, but their words also stoke this desire in you where you want to prove them wrong.

I still remember the time my Mum picked me up from school and I told her about my best friend, Deena, being picked for England Under-18s. Deena was a ridiculously good footballer. She was one of those naturally talented types, and mum just said: “Yeah, she’s good at sports, but you’re good at academic studies. That’s just how it is.” At the time that is how it was. I was good at school and she was good at football. But at the same time, it set something off in me.

I wasn’t like Deena. I was never one of those kids with natural talent and gifts; the ones you can spot a mile off. I liked taking part in lots of different sports – I loved gymnastics and trampolining from the age of three or four – but I wasn’t outstanding in one field. When you don’t have those gifts, your mentality becomes key because you need that hard work, that determination to prove people wrong. I didn’t even really have any interest in football until I was 10. My Dad and brothers kept going off to play, so I was jealous, I wanted to show I could play with them, so I joined in.

I loved it and played in all different outfield positions. I was in the girls’ football team at secondary school when my PE teacher, who also happened to be the England Women’s Rugby captain, took our team and entered us into a full-size, full-contact rugby tournament. None of us had ever played the sport before; we didn’t know what we were doing. She taught us the rules on the bus on the way there. We won the tournament without conceding any points. We were all quite athletic and coordinated, but I’m still not sure how we did it.

Siobhan Chamberlain says
“Her giving me that ultimatum really reinforced the desire to play football at the highest possible level.”Siobhan Chamberlain
After that rugby tournament, I remember my teacher asking me: “Would you rather play international level rugby or mediocre level football?” I remember thinking: international level football. There wasn’t the option of having a career in football at that time, but her giving me that ultimatum really reinforced the desire to play football at the highest possible level.

It was around that time that I volunteered to go in goal in my first ever hockey game (just because you got to wear all the cool padding), and that was that. Next time I played football, we were short of a goalkeeper and I volunteered. The rest is history. As a gymnast you’ve got to have an awareness of how your body moves through the air, you’ve got to have good flexibility and range of movement, all of which help you as a goalkeeper.

I was in year 12, first year of sixth form, when Fulham launched a professional women’s team. The Women’s League was a fully amateur league apart from Fulham. Deena signed professionally with them. I was already playing with Fulham and I don’t know if I would have been offered a contract, but I decided I wanted to finish my A-levels either way because that was important for me. I firmly believe that you should do your education regardless, even these days.

When I was 18 I was offered a scholarship at Stanford University over in America, but at the same time I’d just got into the England Under-18s setup and they wanted you to be visible and playing in England. I signed with Chelsea instead, and a centre opened at Loughborough University where you could combine full-time football training with your studies. That was perfect for me because I was able to do my degree in Sport and Exercise Science, do my Masters in Sports and Exercise Nutrition and I was able to do my football training there. I was at Loughborough for seven years in total. Everyone joked that I’d get married on the football pitches there, with the rubber crumb being thrown as confetti! Thankfully that wasn’t the case in the end.

During my studies, I changed clubs more than once. I left Chelsea for Fulham, moved on to Bristol Academy and ended up back at Chelsea, by which point I’d made my full England debut. That didn’t go as smoothly as I’d have liked – I ruptured the capsule around the top of my foot and had to come off at half-time – and then I wasn’t involved in the 2005 European Championships, which were held in England, but I went to our opening game against Sweden at the Etihad Stadium. We won 3-2 in injury-time and that was another moment when I just thought: Yeah, this is what I want.

After that tournament, I was in every single senior squad from the end of 2005 through to the end of 2017. I was second or third choice at times, and that was 15 years of your life committed to being away once a month and being part of a team without ever really playing. In 2007, after finally leaving Loughborough, I was picked for the second World Cup England had ever qualified for. It was huge. The finals were in China, and I never expected to play at that point. The first-choice goalkeeper, Rachel Brown, had been around forever. I was just there for the journey and to enjoy being at the World Cup.

The commitment you had to make as a female player, at that point when the game wasn’t fully professional, was huge. You’re working full-time, committing to training full-time, and you need a job that’ll let you take a week off once a month and have the flexibility to work around evening kick-offs, changed training schedules and so on. It’s very, very difficult.

I started teaching Sports Science in 2011 while I was in my second spell at Bristol and did a post-graduate course in that while also training, so it was a bit of a tight schedule. Some days I’d finish working at 4.30pm, do a goalkeeper training session for two hours and then immediately join in with a two-hour outfield session. I’d need a massive bag of Haribo between them to get me through. Teaching wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it fitted in and paid the bills.

On the pitch, things went really well. Bristol got to the FA Cup final, got to the Champions League and lost to a Russian team later caught up in the Russian doping scandal. On that note, I actually played for England against Russia a couple of days after the documentary Icarus came out, and I watched that on the day of the game. It left me asking a lot of questions in my head while I was lining up beforehand. That was a strange experience. We won 6-0 anyway, so if there were any drugs involved, they didn’t work!

Siobhan Chamberlain says
“United was, by a million miles, the best organised, best run and most integrated club I’ve played for.”Siobhan Chamberlain
I played every minute of every Bristol game for the first three years of the WSL, was named in the PFA team of the year and came third in the voting for the POTY. Then I left for a new challenge at Arsenal, where I became professional for the first time. The problem was, I barely played, so it wasn’t a great time for me. I played every game of the FA Cup run until I was replaced for the final. We won it for the first time in my career, having lost the final twice with Bristol – both to Arsenal – but I value those loser’s medals more than the winner’s medal because I felt we’d really achieved something by getting to the final with Bristol.

The following year was the 2015 World Cup in Canada. Again, I was on the bench. I went to the World Cup in 2007, Euros in 2009, World Cup in 2011, Euros in 2013 and I didn’t set foot on the pitch in any of them.

Then it happened. Finally.

We were playing Canada in the quarter-final. It was at BC Place in Vancouver. I’d played in Canada for a while a few years earlier, when the women’s league in England had been rescheduled and I went out there to get some playing time during the lull in fixtures. While I was there, I’d played in Vancouver with quite a few of the Canadian team, and now I was back. Karen Bardsley, our first-choice goalkeeper, came in at half-time with a puffy eye. She’d gotten some of the 3G crumb in her eye and it had reacted badly. She went back out for the second half but it quickly became clear she couldn’t see and, after 51 minutes, she had to come off.

There was no way I was going to rush. I sorted my hair out, put my shinpads on, my pre-wraps, my gloves, and by this time the Canadian fans were fuming. It was sold out. They were booing and I was enjoying that. The moment was in my hands. I wanted to be ready, perfectly set. I was getting booed by 55,000 fans for time-wasting, but as a goalkeeper you don’t have to rush. That’s the one position where they can’t start without you, so everyone’s there trying to rush my gloves on, but I was just like: “Don’t stress. It’s fine.”

Siobhan Chamberlain says
“I’m someone that constantly needs a challenge, and that’s certainly what I’ve got right now… being a professional footballer was the easy part!”Siobhan Chamberlain
I was the calmest person in the world as I walked on the pitch with the biggest smile on my face. Everyone at home said to me afterwards: “Were you not nervous? You looked like you were having the best day of your life!” I’d done all the preparation I needed. If I didn’t go out there, enjoy it and trust what I’d done previously, there was no point. It was 2-1 when I went on and it finished 2-1, so we qualified for our first ever semi-final of a World Cup. That was a huge moment in my career – the kind of moment that nobody had ever thought was possible when I was a kid – and it was a sweet experience. In that tournament every outfield member of the squad had already played some part, so it was nice to feel properly involved.

Also, throughout that tournament, every time I’d done media interviews it had been about my wedding, because I’d gone off to play football and left my now-husband Leigh at home to plan the wedding, so I was waiting for any chance to talk about football. Finally I could talk about something other than the wedding!

Two years later, at the European Championships, I was no.2 to Karen again. Playing France in the quarter-final, she went down injured with a broken leg, so I came on at the same stage of the tournament for the same player. It was 1-0 when I came on, it finished 1-0, we qualified for the semi-finals of the Euros and for that to happen two tournaments in succession, Karen must have wondered what I’d done to her!

By that time I’d signed for Liverpool, but when the opportunity came in 2018 to join United, it also gave me the chance to play for Casey Stoney, who had been my England room-mate for a decade. It was perfect timing for me because I needed that move. It couldn’t have gone better. United was, by a million miles, the best organised, best run and most integrated club I’ve played for. You feel like you’re part of the club, which is huge. It feels fully like one club.

It was an interesting season because as a person and footballer, I fell back in love with football at United. After my time at Arsenal and Liverpool, football was just football. I loved the international side of it but had lost my love for the club game. I was just doing my job, but being at United, being part of something new with a great bunch of players and staff, with Casey, I fell back in love with football.

I was by far the senior figure in the squad. I mean, by far. There were a lot of kids in that team, so it was quite nice to have that role of trying to lead and guide and help them. It was a hard season as a goalkeeper barely touching the ball because we were winning so heavily, but to be part of the first ever Manchester United Women’s team to win a trophy is something that nobody can ever take away from us. Personally, being the first ever professional no.1 in the club’s history has great historic value. It’s big. It’s not a record that can be beaten. It’s just a fact and I’m so proud of it.

Then, at the end of that first season, things changed. For most women who have kids, life changes drastically when they give birth. For me, it changed drastically when I announced that I was pregnant because my whole career changed in an instant. My football had always dictated where we moved, my husband had always based his company wherever he’s needed to. Suddenly I was no longer the priority. It wasn’t just about what I wanted. It became all about Emilia, who was born in January 2020.

I left United a few months later and announced my retirement not long afterwards, and it was by far the hardest decision I’d ever taken in my life. United are, like I say, brilliantly run and every single player will tell you that Casey is fantastic. She’s honest, she’s ruthless when she needs to be, but she’s a good manager of people, so the club is in very safe hands. For me, life has changed dramatically. I absolutely love being a mum. I also enjoy watching the team now, quite often as a co-commentator with MUTV, and it’s great to see them doing so well at the top of the league. Personally, for me, as well as media work with MUTV, I’m currently studying for a Masters in Sports Directorship. I’ve learnt and experienced so much within the game that I’d love to be able to give back and help the game grow in the right direction. I’m someone that constantly needs a challenge, and that’s certainly what I’ve got right now… being a professional footballer was the easy part!

That’s just me, it’s how I’ve always been – especially if someone tells me I can’t do something!

WHY ME? A Beautiful Message

By Arthur Ashe.

Arthur Ashe was the legendary Wimbledon Tennis Player who was dying of AIDS, which he got due to Infected Blood he received during a Heart Surgery in 1983!

As he lay sick, he received letters from his fans, one of which asked:

“Why did God have to select you for such a bad disease?”

To this Arthur Ashe replied:

50 Million children started playing Tennis,

5 Million learnt to play Tennis,

500 000 learnt Professional Tennis,

50 Thousand came to Circuit,

5 Thousand reached Grand Slam,

50 reached Wimbledon,

4 reached the Semifinals,

2 reached the Finals and

when, I , was holding the winner’s cup in my hand, I never asked God

“Why Me?”

So now that I’m in pain how can I ask God

“Why Me?”

Happiness keeps you Sweet!

Trials keep you Strong!

Sorrows keep you Human!

Failure keeps you Humble!

Success keeps you Glowing!

But only, Faith keeps you Going!

Sometimes you are not satisfied with your life, while many people in this world are dreaming of living your life.

A child on a farm sees a plane fly overhead dreams of flying. but, a pilot on the plane sees the farmhouse & dreams of returning home.

That’s life!

Enjoy yours… If wealth is the secret to happiness, then the rich should be dancing on the streets.

But only poor kids do that.

If power ensures security, then VIPs should walk unguarded.
But those who live simply, sleep soundly.

If beauty and fame bring ideal relationships, then celebrities should have the best marriages.

Live simply, be happy! Walk humbly before God and men, and love genuinely, for God our father is LOVE!

WHY ME?

A Beautiful Message not just to read and forward to others, but to apply practically in our personal lives.
Good day, folks!

Please take time to share the pieces above.

Blessings.

DOWN BUT NOT OUT

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

1. “Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe Lincoln. Possibly the most successful politician in American history – abolished slavery, united the country after the Civil War to preserve the union, modernised the economy and put America on a path to greatness. But Lincoln was not always a raging success.
In 1831 at the age of 23, he owned a general store in New Salem, Illinois. The town was booming. However, his choice of business partners wasn’t great, and the business was run into the ground. Abe then ran for the Illinois General Assembly. He lost. Lincoln then bought a half a share in another General store. This store also went bust, his business partner died, and Abe – who borrowed money to invest – was broke. He spent several years paying off the debt.

Lincoln ran for US Senate in 1854, but was defeated. In 1858, he ran for the Senate again and won the popular vote. But through a quirk of the electoral process at that time, the Illinois State Legislature chose Lincoln’s rival anyway. This guy could not catch a break. However, he managed to come back from all this and was elected President in 1860. He is generally considered to be the greatest American president in history. He was perhaps, too good a president. His achievements inspired a wing-nut – who hated Lincoln for abolishing slavery – to shoot him in the back of the head while at the theatre. A tragic for America.”

2. “In a boxing match, you can lose the first 14 rounds. All you have to do is nail your opponent in the last 10 seconds of the 15th round and you’re the world’s heavyweight champion” – Ross Perot.

3. “At the start of the Munich Games in August 1972, Lasse Viren, a 23-year-old Finnish policeman from the small village of Myrskyla, was not widely known. Indeed, the heats of the 10,000 metres were his Olympic debut. But when he stumbled and fell just before the halfway mark in the final his chance of victory seemed to have gone.

The Tunisian Mohamed Gammoudi (who had won the 5,000 metres at the 1968 Olympics) tripped over Viren and gave up two laps later. But the Finnish runner calmly got to his feet and chased his way back into contention, overtaking Britain’s David Bedford, the long-time leader, to not only win the gold medal, but set a world record of 27min 38.4sec. Ten days later, he also won the 5,000m (in an Olympic record time) – a double that he repeated in Montreal in 1976”

Life Is Not Everything — Bipolar by cola

Life is not everything, a shadow of me, exists out there somewhere in the sea. Breath is not everything, a slight tense, is making the waking dream come sense. Light is not everything, the new dark comes, for the lonely soul who think he has won. Dark is not everything, light burns the night away […]

via Life Is Not Everything — Bipolar by cola

5 Year Anniversary Achievement
Happy 5th Anniversary with WordPress.com for YasNiger!!!!
YasNiger- “Witty Written Works” registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago Today.
Thanks to everyone for flying with me all this long while.
After 1,190 POSTS
After 33,566 VIEWS
After 11,290 VISITORS
After over 3,500 FOLLOWERS,
IT HAS BEEN SUPER AWESOME…. THANK YOU ALL

Why Cricket Lords Over Football

cricket 1

(Excerpts from ‘Sporting Chance’ in ‘Everyone hates the English’)

Indians will always prefer cricket to football.

Vijay understands the Indian’s passion for cricket, he really couldn’t imagine a more fitting sport for the mainly frail creamy intelligent tigers. But the English’s craze for that weaklings’ sport alongside a maddened hunger for football and rugby is to say the least, quite baffling.
The artistry in the dexterous requirements in the football craft are very English, just as their heavy beer drinking and brawling nature is captured in rugby, which is tastefully quite English.
cricket 2
Vijay struggles to place the lazy pretentious athletic guise of cricket in the rugged Isles of the Brits. With their woodlands for Archery, their vast greenery across the broad island screams for racing horses, their neatly cut lawns fitting for tennis and golf, their long coast line and rivers demand to be rowed and raced in. But it baffles Vijay where the idle desire to spend an entire afternoon watching able bodied men, fully dressed in surgical whites and safari hats, just to repetitively throw, whack and catch a wooden fist size ball, over and over again, comes from. It beats the imagination and is simply juvenile to have grown ups endlessly count the number of times a ball is thrown, hit or caught repeatedly. It feels like teaching erring adolescences to count while punishing them for doing their sums badly.

Vijay’s conclusive theory is the English lords had simply wanted a ball game of their own that can rival football. The rich lords of old England hated the advent of original football and the trampling of their vast green lands by their peasant tenants it encouraged. The lords hated that it curbed their fox hunting and pony jumping. It also disturbed their arrow shooting. They also hated the fact that football evolved into quite a popular pastime amongst their rebellious subjects who chose to still revere their lordships, even as they pretend not to by openly governing themselves democratically. So the English lords sought for a way to be seen as taking to the field on their feet, running and throwing, hitting and catching too, like in football.
BB-29042012145 (4)
It had to be on their terms, completely non-contact sport, one befitting royalty and allowing them to be well dressed, with sitting ladies watching out of harms way, like in polo. The thought of it being otherwise is appalling, to say the least. Cricket is paced leisurely, in usual unrushed aristocratic manner and its lingo also comes from established elitist pastimes. Visiting teams are tourists and half-time is tea time etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Enter Cricket for English royals and landlords.

EVERYONE HATES THE ENGLISH - Small
EVERYONE HATES THE ENGLISH

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/559891
http://authl.it/B011JMAIYA
https://www.createspace.com/5650770
http://okadabooks.com/book/about/9867

King of Sports

BB-29042012145 (4)

(Excerpts from ‘Sporting Chance’ in ‘Everyone hates the English’)

All sports are really silly juvenile play in a sense. Partakers and spectators alike, love competitive sports because of its semblance of a life of manageable fun and the larger human drama it samples. It is a sequence of testing controlled effort against visible resistance in established circumstances. The thrilling mysteries in the unending sequence of match ups and the unpredictability of the results of all games, adds to the fun. The fun in sports is not suppose to make sense, all kinds of play shouldn’t. Play is fun because it is illogical and only saddists empathize with the naïve old Indian village Chief who thought he had solved a perennial football problem by comically recommending that the twenty two players on the pitch are given a soccer ball each to end their pointless running around like a herd of mad cows.

The purposeful running around is what Vijay loves the most in football. Vijay is crazy about football, considering it the king of sports with the best all round athletes in every regard. He agrees football is indeed a gentleman’s sport, played by hooligans because it teaches manners and tests character. Rugby truly likens the hooligan’s sport, played by gentlemen because it alters character and in its very physical fashion, it emphasizes brute force ahead of skills and intelligence. Golf is a long walk on the grass, cattle do that. Polo is the kings’ sport and only the horses are really skillful. Horse racing is for servants of kings, with the royals ever present to observe their subjects and domain. It is unfair to call horse racing a sport, unfair to plowing bulls and the slaving peasants whipping their beasts into line, without their fellow impoverished brethren betting and cheering in the trees.

379744_239654669530018_1526297228_n
Then there is the similarity of the common footballer to everyone else in the world that wishes to excel in life. Footballers are typical average athletes, they are amongst the world’s most selfish people and their work is just doing yet another of the world’s selfish hypocritical jobs. They are talented and a bio-engineered reality that manifests as a combination of highly skillful performers and acting stunt men. Footballers have to make out they care about the billions of passionate fans who actually do care about them, their physical, emotional and healthy state. At the pinnacle of their careers, footballers are incredibly well paid to do what they would ordinarily do for virtually nothing in return. If they don’t get a penny for doing their jobs, they will still get the same jobs as unpaid players, until they can’t do so.

Like millions of their less fortunate colleagues who don’t get opportunities and fall on the wayside, all footballers still don’t aspire for anything other than a paid job. Vijay always knew he wouldn’t do anything else but play football and when he discovers he finds little fun in playing football then he will get out of it. But the truth is, he wouldn’t truly enjoy doing it if he is not being paid to do it. The thrill of the game is sublime yet as addictive as the gospel to a Jesuit. The referees can go to hell with their calls and the spectators can chew their nails to the quick with tension, but the world of the footballer is his alone, nothing else exists. Families must wait, friends must worship for notice and religion is best handle like underpants, you might have one on or not, it doesn’t matter. Life is the game first.

SPORTS FOR PLAYERS

The Coach isn’t selfless but human too,
He is the person with a plan for everyone.
With abilities as experience all learnt anew;
He is an optimist, patient as sure as the sun.

The Player obeys the norms and urge,
Enjoying the dreamt up living, yet real.
Dancing to all songs with a new surge,
Blinding days are lit with a light to feel.

The Sport is heartless and demanding,
All companies it keeps are envious of it.
Consuming lust filled, never satisfying;
On its sure ride it will keep every bit.

The Game is simple and easy to chase,
Embraced in choices to choose and make.
Stages of gains at every level of the race
Made the whole thing Sports for players’.

EVERYONE HATES THE ENGLISH - Small
EVERYONE HATES THE ENGLISH

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/559891
http://authl.it/B011JMAIYA
https://www.createspace.com/5650770
http://okadabooks.com/book/about/9867
the poet in the poet - Copy
The Poet in the Poem
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/451309

http://authl.it/B00SLWGOMM
https://www.createspace.com/5195332

SPORTS FOR PLAYERS ~

THE COACH

I am a reluctant Coach. The first time I tried coaching was in school. I was the tertiary institution’s Basketball team captain and we had a non-official Coach; a short middle-aged fellow, who was not a staff of the institution and only lived behind the school’s main campus. We were not sure he had played the game competitively himself and tolerated his feeble attempt at guiding us out of respect. I was looked up to by my fellow team mates, and most especially by the female Basketball team.

I liked that. If getting all that attention from pretty girls came with it, why not? It was just a game I played then. Not the Basketball, but the coaching. The presumed remuneration was cosy and quite good! It came in doves of willing babes, hyped up campus status, popularity, travelling and fun. It was unlimited fun my parents paid for with my school fees. It was free fun like campus life always would be and life never ever is.

The second stage of my Coaching-hood dawned on a prolonged holiday. In the pigs ‘invaded’ slump my father housed our entire family in, was a group of young men who played amateur soccer. Out of idleness, not even youthful curiosity and certainly not professional pursuit, I teamed up with them.

I was the least skilful of the whole lot, but was respected mainly because my family had a posh status in the ghetto community, and also because of my higher education and maybe also my relative advanced age. I was allowed to play, even in competitions. Though my knowledge of the game exceeded my physical display of it, I gave a good account of myself with the number of goals I scored and the lots more I ‘almost’ scored.

One day, the oldest and most experienced leader of the team; who we obviously called Coach, suddenly named me his assistant. That was it. My first solo assignment was to handle our junior male team. I made a show of it, encouraged some idle girls to join in on the fun as well and started a female team too. This time though, these girls were a lot younger and I was sincerely interested in only improving myself as a soccer Coach with the work I did with the younger players. This I continued to do pretty well, while I finished school and waited to farther my education or get a job, still much the reluctant Coach.

The third stage was longer. My young female team played in its first competition. We did well and got rewarded with a friendly match against a State sponsored side. Afterwards some of my players were asked to play for the State side and I was asked to join the managerial crew of the team. The State team did well, but it soon got off-loaded by the State and a group of tradesmen took over the players. I willingly stayed with the players on a part-time basis, while I worked and schooled full-time.

We won a National competition and did well in another National contest. This brought me and the team a drop of national recognition and I was offered a regional role in a National programme by a prominent National soccer Coach.

I would work at my job as well as pursued a full time advanced course in the city’s polytechnic on week days, while at weekends I spent hours coaching young children under the National soccer programme. I was able to polish my coaching abilities under the tutelage of an ex-professional player, now an established seasoned soccer Coach. Taking it one day at a time, I managed my time according to my prevailing priorities. It was always work first, school next and coaching last.

I had made it the quest of my reluctant coaching career during this period to improve the general lives of all the young players I handled. My principle was simple: ‘Sports is recreational and recreation is temporal.’ Hence, I ensured that all my wards pursued a more permanent career alongside sports. Mainly it was schooling, but some learnt other trades too. My quest became a means of recreation for me too. And though by my actions I had assisted in ensuring that the aspirations of many families for their young ones were achieved, it was always a past time to me too. Soon it developed into something special as I simply dedicated myself more to it. It became more important to me than actually coaching soccer. I will coach for a lucrative package when I got the chance, but I am still a reluctant Coach.

THE PLAYER

It was a secondary schools’ female soccer competition match and our team was winning with four goals. But though our team was five goals up by half time, we were still worried about a skilful, natural left footed girl in our opponents’ midfield. She had repeatedly dribbled, waltzed and shot through our entire defence line like we were playing against her alone and not another team of eleven girls. We won the match by a whooping seven-nil, but everyone was looking at that talented girl like she had netted all the seven goals we scored against her team.

I wanted her in our team and I tried to get her by every legal means conceivable. Every attempt to get her interested in our school was foiled by her then handlers. I got to know that she had played that match illegally because she had not even been a student of the school she played for and had indeed dropped out of an entirely different junior school two years earlier. It only made me even more interested in her.

I tailed her home from her local training field one evening and met her parents with my very ‘palatable’ offer. Unknown to me, they were prepared for me. The girl’s then handlers had falsified some details about me and warned her, and her parents about me. They had been told that I was a profiteering schemer who wanted to deceive them, and that I had no good intensions for their daughter. I was then disappointed that I had probably seen (maybe) the most talented female soccer player ever identified in my country and she was wasting away, out of school, hawking sugarcane, flirting around and utterly poorly handled.

She could have very easily been schooling on a full scholarship in one of the best schools in the country like I had offered her. She could be polished and managed into becoming an educated success in both sports and in any other career of her choice. It hurt me, but there wasn’t much I could do but wait and hope.

I didn’t have that long to wait though. In sports two years is not a long time. In sports we remember and forget too easily. I had stopped to change a flattened wheel and habitually responded to greetings from behind me, as I changed the punctured tyre. At first I didn’t recognise any of the girls sitting behind full trays of neatly stacked well cut sugarcane sticks, they were selling.

When I finished changing the tyre and had put the flat tyre away in the car’s rear compartment, one of the girls came over with some water for me to wash my dirtied hands with. It was then I recognised the talented left footer. After holding up the water for me to wash my hands, she insisted I took at least a stick of her sugarcane with me. Before I drove off she shyly asked me if she could come to see me sometime. She claimed to know my office and pleaded that I gave her a few minutes when I could. I gave her an appointment, drove off whistling. Patience does pay.

She came early, in time. I gave her something to drink, which she didn’t touch eventually. She wept as she told me how she regretted not joining our school and what a mess her handlers had made of her prospects as a promising talent. She then wanted to join up with us but didn’t have the courage to face me until she met me recently. Though I knew it was too late to get her admitted into the private school where I coached part-time, after the proprietor had given seventeen girls from my team admissions on full scholarship. Since he died in a car crash on his way for an inaugural meeting of a federal sports panel, the school hadn’t taken any more students on sports scholarships.

I was so thankful that his family held up to their end of the arrangement and still allowed all the girls (and some boys) to complete their studies on full scholarship. To request for an additional space, at that time, was asking for too much.

I however asked her to return with photocopies of her most recent academic credentials and lied that I will try to get her accepted into the school. I had however explained to her the difficult situation truthfully. I just wanted her in our team first, so that I could have a shot at handling her properly. I was certain I could make her an outstanding future star.

THE SPORT

A year passed and she was now fully part of our team. I finally had to get her settled into a public school and assisted her ‘struggling’ parents in paying her school fees. She blossomed into a wonderful team player and she travelled with our team everywhere, playing in both local and national competitions for the private school’s team too. She was the toast of every match she played in and I started getting doves of hugely promising requests for her from big professional club sides.

My refusal to accept any of these offers started a feud with her parents. They had been told that their girl will earn a lot if she joined a professional side. Though this is partially true, I had my reasons for refusing. This I explained to her parents. But against my best advice her parents soon insisted she joins a professional club. I had two reasons for not wanting her to go just yet. Firstly, I thought she was still rather young and inexperienced in the dirty ‘game’ behind the sports scene.

Secondly, she had to finish secondary school to enable her continue her education any farther. If she is to have a decent life after her very limited sporting career, then furthering her education was paramount. This I considered was appropriate then and not at any other non-feasible time in the future.

I lost her, but happily not her trust. Her parents made her join a big club in the south of the country for their own selfish reason. I was given some money to sign her mandatory release papers, which I took and did. She was gone for only one calendar year and though she is an incredibly talented player, she never got to play in even one competitive game for the club. She was not even registered for the national league in two abridged seasons.

It was soon revealed that one of her Coaches there wanted sexual favours from her and the other considered her a threat to his most favoured player. Then she broke her leg in training and had to return home untreated and without any savings to fall back on. Her folks had used up every dime she had sent home. I got a specialist to treat and manage her leg. And in those eight months, while she healed and rehabilitated, I got her re-admitted to finish her secondary education in her last school. I paid for her extra lessons and her examination fees too. She was able to resume training exactly nine months after she returned home.

Three months later, her results were out. She had passed averagely and it coincided with her regaining her previous playing form. By the time we started processing her admission into a tertiary institution on a sports ticket; she had healed completely and was thrilled to have attained the ‘form of her life’. Then she did the unexpected. You just never know with young girls and lying cute good looking boys. She called to tell me that she had ‘run-off’ with her mechanic boyfriend, who just got employed into an engineering firm somewhere in the biggest city in the west of the country. It was a huge blow.

The necessity of sports in teenagers’ lives can not be over emphasised. It makes them burn up their excess energy, tow the line of good behaviour, stay healthy, imbibe important values in their characters and provide an immediate alternate means of livelihood, and if they are among the lucky talented few. Sports could also ensure a comfortable life subsequently.

I had always insisted that my players get a proper education, the highest possible when obtainable. The risk and luck involved in making it in sports hugely out-weights that involved in making it straight from a proper education. I pursued the same course myself; thus I subjected all my players to the same pursuit. Most turned out well, but a few derailed. She was no exception, though hers hurt me a lot because of the promise she personified.

Five months later she returned, visibly pregnant and sent away by her boyfriend, who she told us had moved in with another girl. Her father came to me and I followed him. Amidst her entire family’s continuous onslaught of curses, I insisted she is allowed to pick up her life and not discouraged by our disappointment or indeed hers; not even considered. I was secretly certain that this experience will serve a good purpose in the future; for others too, through her.

THE GAME

To keep her mind off things and in an attempt to give her some confidence, I got her enrolled into a Computer school. She finished the brief course just in time for the birth of her baby. Three months after her son’s birth, she started a two years course it a tertiary institution in our town. Eight months later she was back in training, her son weaned and in her mother’s care, most of the time. She made the institution’s team to its biannual national competition, which they won. She was a member of the State’s team to the national sports festival, a team I was given the privilege of handling.

She was simply so brilliant at the tournament that she couldn’t be ignored by our country’s junior national team selectors. The two years of her course ended swiftly and she was invited to join the junior national team in preparing for the world cup. Everyone was excited but I advised that she took her final exams first and wait for another chance in the future. She was still young and officially eligible, even if she should be younger. I expected some resistance but I got none as she readily agreed.

I however made her understand that it had to be her choice, not minding that I was assisting her with her education. She replied me with what is the most touching response I have ever received from any of my players. She said I was her guiding angel, sent by God to steer her through life. She added that she was not the only person I handled, but I had dedicated most of my time, effort and money to her and her troubles.

She did not go to that juniors’ world cup. Instead she finished her academic course and proudly got a National Diploma. It was afterwards easy for her to get into a National females’ League club side. The next two years were quite great. She actually won every competition she was featured in.

The National female soccer league and The National Football Association female clubs’ tourney, The National Sports Festival soccer and a women soccer tournament in Europe were all won by her teams that year, with her playing a very prominent part. She was to later play in the very next edition of the junior world cup she had missed previously, and later won a female soccer continental championship. She became an instant big star and was well off with her financial earnings now.

I sort of managed her affairs for her back home and supervised the construction of the two residential flats she built. Her parents moved into part of the building, leaving the rented abode they had been living in all this long while. She had the other flat fitted and furnished for her own private use.

She agreed with my suggestion to buy a small commercial bus for her first vehicle, instead of the family utility van her father preferred. This was a sore point between her father and I, but she saw the sense in generating money with the vehicle to maintain itself, while it still served the family’s needs. When she returned for her annual holiday, I suggested that she changed her club so that she could farther her education while she still played actively. She did. She was now a big star and it was easy to get into just any other club she so desired.

So she moved to another club, secured an admission into an institution in her new club’s home city and in another two and a half years, she graduated with a university degree. I went for her graduation alongside her brother and father, in the same vehicle she bought. Then she changed clubs again, this time to the city she was posted to for her mandatory National Youth Service. In those two years she made the senior national team, won the continental nations’ cup, and featured in the Olympic Games and in the senior female world cup.

She was soon engaged by a small club in Europe for a two years contract. One year into the contract, her contract was sold by the club to a much bigger club in a different European country for a heart warming sum that was assessed a world record for a female player then. Her new personal package was quite huge. I asked her to take an insurance policy for disability and retirement, and with the assistance of her new foreign club’s secretary, she did. It was such a great idea as the unfolding events that soon followed was to show.

Returning home for an off-season holiday, her plane had to make an emergency landing. As a result of the ensuing crash, she was among the few that got injured when her right femur was fractured in two places. She had stayed behind at home since then. The insurance company paid up and with the statutory settlements she got from her big European club and the Airline’s insurers, she had enough to retire many times over.

She healed well in four months and wanted to play again, but I made her realize that her whole soccer career will end eventually and she would then want to start off in another field. She might never make more money than she had already made and it was a perfect time to start off in a life long career that will define her future status as someone other than just an entertainer.

We looked at all the options opened to her and concluded that she invests most of her considerable fortune in landed structures and pursue a career in the field she already studied. So because she had read Banking and Finance and had a favourable public image, we had; with a little persuasion, got her employed as a junior manager in a bank she had also invested heavily in. She bought a small store and built a small office structure, which she rented out. Now her son is doing very well in the private school she couldn’t get into and I am as proud as a stuffed bear.

The Coach isn’t selfless but human too,
He is the person with a plan for everyone.
With abilities as experience all learnt anew;
He is an optimist, patient as sure as the sun.

The Player obeys the norms and urge,
Enjoying the dreamt up living, yet real.
Dancing to all songs with a new surge,
Blinding days are lit with a light to feel.

The Sport is heartless and demanding,
All companies it keeps are envious of it.
Consuming lust filled, never satisfying;
On its sure ride it will keep every bit.

The Game is simple and easy to chase,
Embraced in choices to choose and make.
Stages of gains at every level of the race
Made the whole thing Sports for players’.