It was a day that began with football (soccer). It was Saturday, so the kids had a day off of school. They walked a short distance to a local community field and began their play before we arrived by car from the hotel.
When we came, the older boys were playing and the girls and younger boys were waiting on the sidelines for their turn on the pitch (as it is called). It was their turn next—the girls against the younger boys. I don’t know any scores. I don’t know who won.
But I do know that there were often extra players on the field—four footed ones. The cows wandered around. I once saw a
cow give the ball not too bad of a kick.
I was sitting on the sidelines with a couple of pastors.
Half kidding, I said to Pastor Douglas that the pastors should challenge the boys to a match. I actually did not think that he would take the idea and run with it, since none of us were dressed for sport. But he took me
seriously and began counting how many pastors we could find there, including Larry and myself. He came up with eleven—enough for a match.
“That’s good, but I get to be the goal keeper,” I said.
Douglas also quickly claimed his own relatively less tiring position: “And I will be the referee!”
So it was the pastors against the boys.
“Two 30-minute halves,” Douglas yelled. He didn’t care. He was just the referee.
“No,” I replied. “Two 10-minute halves.”Douglas then compromised, “Two 15-minute halves.”
“No,” I replied. “Two 10-minute halves.”
I don’t actually know what time Douglas settled on, but the halves seemed much longer than 10 minutes to me.
My job was to stand in front of the goal and keep the ball from entering. Thankfully, nearly every time the ball came close to my area, my friend Douglas called “offsides” on one of the boys.
Free kick for me.
I do not know much about this kind of football and I didn’t
even know that there was such a thing as offsides, but I was glad to find out
there was this penalty, and that Douglas was helping me out by watching
The final score at the end of the time was 0-0—something that seems almost typical for football. It then came down to penalty kicks. Five players from each team had a chance to kick the ball into the goal.
The boys used their regular goalie. For our side, Hesborn (the guy that can jump five feet high), asked me if I wanted him to substitute.
I quickly agreed. “Substitute goal keeper!” I yelled.
Kick after kick failed—either missed or blocked. At the end of the five from each team, the score remained 0-0.
Three more from each team. After the first two kicked, still 0-0. The boys sent up their last kicker. Blocked by Hesborn!
The very last kicker was to be me. I did not know I would be the one to attempt the kick until the moment came. Trying to calm my beating heart, I stepped up to the ball.
Now… I used to be the player on our high-school football team who would do the kicking (American football), but something has happened to my kicking abilities in the some 53 years since that time. When I stepped up to the ball, I could feel the pressure. Beads of sweat began running down my forehead.
I kicked my mightiest kick! The ball dribbled and bounced on its way to the goal. I hoped that it would make it all the way there. Then it began to look like it indeed had enough speed, but the goalie was right in front, ready to stop it.
But then, almost miraculously, he fell in the opposite direction and my ball went through the goal posts! Goooaaaalll! The team of pastors won!
Do you think that the goalie took that fall on purpose? Did he purposely throw the game? Do you think that the boys dialed back their playing abilities for the entire game so that the old guys could feel good? Those questions will remain unanswered, but I prefer to think that it was our superior playing abilities and training that won the game for us.
But the day was only beginning. The main part of the day was yet to come. I was glad that I had not exerted myself too much during the game. Larry on the other hand, my butler Larry, was right in the thick of things. He said that he had never played this game before, but he is displaying an early talent.
Too much here to talk about all that happened the rest of the day. It looks like I will have to continue these posts for a while after we return home.