FootballWeb Series

Holding On: 90+1

“Hello?” I answered my phone that had gone off 50 times since I left the office building quitting my job so unceremoniously. It was Chandni and she wanted to meet me for some quick coffee. I hadn’t told her of my dramatic exit but now was the time.
“Hi!” She exclaimed as she saw me. She looked stunning, as usual.
“Hey. I have to tell you something” I replied back, she instantly looked at me and asked me a 50 questions about random things, none of which were related to my job. Maybe she never thought of me as the guy who could quit his job to pursue something that’s not so mainstream. But I wasn’t going to be mainstream anymore.
“Chandni, I…I quit my job.” I said hoping for her to scream, shout and be pouty the entire day.
“You did? Oh, FINALLY” she said instead, “you crib about your job all day, every day. I didn’t want to tell you to quit because I wanted you to come to that decision on your own but now that you have, I’m proud of you.” she continued. I loved her so much more, now.
After the ‘quick’ coffee that lasted for 4 hours, I went home and slept and for the first time in 4 years, I slept without thinking about how boring my life was and how I was missing out on so many great things. I had so much to look forward to, now. I knew the morning after was going to be hectic as I had to figure out my options, now. Normally, a person who just quit his job would spend his days in a more carefree manner, but I didn’t have the money or the time. I wanted to figure out an option of getting into the groove of meeting new teams, their members, talking to them and making them believe that I can work with them just as well their current coach, or assistant coach is.
Next morning was just like any other morning but the only difference was that I was going to get what I wanted. I hadn’t informed my parents of this and I don’t think my father would even talk to me, so I preferred staying quiet.
Remember that friend I mentioned who had contacts with a football team in Pune? Yeah, he didn’t exist, I just had to give a little feeder to my parents, but since that didn’t work, it hardly mattered.
So, I did what every single person in this world would do in my situation GOOGLE. Yes. I Googled ‘How to become a Football Manager in India’ and to my surprise the links  were absolutely of no help. Obviously, how could I forget that becoming a football manager or an assistant manager or even a football coach is not something the Indian society looks up to, today. 21st century folks. 21st century.
After a disappointing session with the internet, I decided to take matters to a serious level. I thought of the I-league which also had a 2nd division obviously being lower in the hierarchical system. I tracked a couple clubs down who played in the second tier of the league and tried contacting them for a meeting. ONGC FC was a club I kept hearing about. Their form was terrible but I had seen some of their matches and the had all the potential in the world. I couldn’t understand why the coach played the Striker in the middle when clearly he wasn’t comfortable playing in that position. I called them and asked them about the meeting and of course, they wouldn’t even let me near their office. So, I decided to give them a little visit. I booked a ticket to Mumbai, hoping to catch them at their ground- Cooperage.
I informed Chandni  of my short trip and naturally she was worried but she knew how important this was to me. As I reached Mumbai, all the old memories came back to me in a flash and I thought of contacting Krishna, Pulkit and Somendra. I called them and asked them to come have dinner with me later in the evening, to which they happily agreed.
It was 1 already and I had to reach the ground as soon as I could but as luck could have it, I reached an hour late and they were gone. The practice had finished and the team had left. I was gutted, angry and drained out, to be honest. I called Pulkit and the others to cancel the dinner as I had no appetite left.
Why did I think it was going to be this easy? Why did I think that the dream that I had was going to be handed over to me in a silver spoon? I don’t know, maybe I had become too cocky about the given situation. I spent 4,000 bucks on air fare plus the hotel charges- not that I didn’t have money, I just didn’t have a job.
Next morning, I woke up at 6 and tried to reach the ground as soon as I could but Mumbai traffic was a bitch to the world and to my emergent situation. I reached by 8:30 and thanked my stars about the fact that the training wasn’t over yet. I could see the team, the coach and the manager right there in front of me. As I charged forward, a hefty looking man wearing a blue and black uniform stood in front me and the ‘chance’ I was waiting for.
“Yes, sir, hello? Where to?” He shouted even though I was right in front of him. RIGHT THERE. Some things are just beyond human thinking.
“Uh, I wanted to talk to the team and the manager for a while. Just 15 minutes” I replied, the whole time looking over his shoulders to see the sight of the manager. He wore a green jacket with khaki pants, his hands folded and face wrinkled.
“No no. visitors not allowed.”  He pushed me back and I thought to myself ‘Jai, don’t let anyone push you out. Ever’.
“Arrey! Press hoon main, bhaai! Interview lena hai Sir ka!” (I am from the Press, brother! I have an interview with Sir) I replied in utter confidence.
“Badge?” He asked suspiciously.
“Oh shit! Sorry, boss, completely forgot!” I made all sorts of hand gestures showing how truly sorry I was about my fake badge. Finally after 15 minutes of begging, he let me through.
As I walked towards the ground my mind played images of me as a 12 year old child  watching the UCL, then as a teenager-stealing money just to buy the latest poster of the club I liked and then that other when I quit my job. I thought to myself in that moment ‘Is this how they feel, the players; when they walk out of the dugout? Their hearts pounding to a point where they can feel it in their heads? Is this it? The moment? I might not get anything out of this meeting, maybe there won’t be any but here I am holding on. Holding on to the passion I never got to fulfil and on the dream I never stopped dreaming. Is this how it feels when you score that winning goal?
“Maybe.” my heart gently said.

Ananya Das

Total analyst. Food junkie. Future CEO of Procrasti-nation. Writer. Manchester United enthusiast. Avid reader and an occasional owl. 'One love' believer. If you don't know what that is, please, FIND OUT. TV and movie nerd. Overly attached to my dog, and yes, I call her my 'four legged sister'. PEACE.
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