Saturday, October 02, 2004

Smells Like Team Spirit

This post is especially dedicated to my futsal teammates: Prem aka the Great Wall of M2/03 (defender), Priya ‘Gonzalez’ (defender/ goalkeeper), The Keeper aka The Roommate (TR) (goalkeeper), Ning Ning, Ikan Yu aka Sharkfish, Foxxy Lady aka The Ex-Roommate (TXR), How Pei Ling, Shuj, and last but definitely not least, our figure of inspiration on the pitch, Cap’n KLin. (strikers/midfielders). And of course, to Coachie and Assistant Coach as well. Oh yeah, did I mention that we won the gold medal? :P

I. The Long-Awaited Evening
’Twas a rainy evening, reminiscent of the futsal Cup matches of the yesteryear. We were freshies then, we didn’t even have official jerseys and had to wear the ugly yellow Orientation t-shirts to play. We reached the semi-finals, tired and defeated (though we creamed the Sem 3s 3-0 then thanks to a hat-trick by Cap’n KLin) and vowed to become the champions the next year.

12 months had since passed. Older and hopefully wiser, we trained. And then we trained some more. It was all fun, but we also had a target in mind. “At least gold,” to put in the words of #77. ;)

’Twas a rainy evening, and we went to the futsal pitch with hope in our hearts.

II. Warming Up
The football dudes couldn’t come on time to support us as they themselves had a match to play (which they won, btw—congratulations!). There was only a lone supporter then who really deserves a mention—Peter walked all the way in the rain from his place opposite the school to come support us. It’s at least 20 minutes walk. For that, us girls thank and salute you, Peter. We truly appreciate it.

So, anyway, we warmed up (almost) by ourselves, received pep-talks from the Cap’n and psyched ourselves up to win the matches. We were up against the Pharmacy students first and they had quite a number of supporters armed with loud props. We had Peter and a few other girls. Obviously outnumbered, we felt a trifle disconcerted.

Then Coachie stepped out of the car right before the match started and things looked cheerier. Coachie left his game at half-time to be with us. Aww... thanks, Coachie. That absolutely did wonders for our morale.

III. First Match: Sem 3 Vs Pharmacy
I wasn’t in the starting line-up so I stood in the sidelines, cheering and observing my fellow players. It took off a jittery start. I suppose we were all nervous and panicky. There were many chances to score goals, chances squandered due to minute inaccuracies. We attacked a lot, but by half-time, still no goal. The Pharmacy girls weren’t too bad as expected. They ran everywhere, but boy, do they run fast.

As for the referee, oh he was in a class of his own. Or should I say, sub-class. If there was such a thing as Anugerah Referee Paling Kayu, he would win it, hands down. He penalised my side due to my handball—my arms were pinned against my sides and the ball hit my elbow. Okay, fine. Nevermind. Fair enough. BUT giving Cap’n KLin a yellow card for being ‘too rough’? There were many handballs committed by the Pharmacy side, OBVIOUS handballs, on one occasion the Pharmacy girl actually pushed the ball away ala volleyball... and the whistle was NOT blown. The Pharmacy goalkeeper scooped up the ball OUTSIDE the D-area... and the whistle was NOT blown.

I think the Referee Kayu has a personal vendetta against our batch but even then, where was his sense of professionalism? Such lack of ethics led me to wonder about the kind of doctor he would become. I think he felt quite bold to commit such unfairness against us then because our boys weren’t there yet to beat him up into a pulp after the match had he done so in front of ’em. He wasn’t too kayu in the second match (when they came).

But he had no choice but to grant us a penalty kick when the Pharmacy goalkeeper took WAY too long to throw the ball back onto the pitch. Cap’n KLin converted it.

Final score: Sem 3 (1 – 0) Pharmacy

IV. Match Numero Dos: Sem 3 Vs Sem 2
The Sem 2 girls were obviously bigger sized, they played rough, but those aren’t substitutes for skills. This was an ego-boosting match, almost everyone took turns to score a goal at least once. :P Almost everyone because goal-scoring wasn’t a part of the job descriptions for defenders and goalkeepers. ;)

One Sem 2 defender became an unintentional victim of TXR’s hands. The poor girl. I hope she wasn’t traumatised by it.

And our football guys arrived, fresh and in high spirits from their own win against Sem 1. :)

Final score: Sem 3 (6 – 0) Sem 2

We topped our group and were in the Semi-finals, as expected!

V. Semi-Finals: The One That Got Away & The Nail-Biting Experience
Sem 4 lost their match against Sem 5 so we were up against the Sem 4s in the Semis (1st placing in group vs the 2nd placing of the other). This was the one team we anticipated to work the hardest, but we expected to see them in the Finals, not so soon in the Semis. They had their not-so-secret weapon, Sunila, their striker cum everything as she runs up, down, left and right of the pitch. Unfortunately for them, Sunila was also getting tired.

Yet, despite her tiredness, she was still a handful for us defenders. She’s honestly a really good player—excellent ball control, she dribbles well and her kicks were hard and strong... DESPITE BEING TIRED. She scored the 1st goal of the match on the second half. According to Coachie, I could have bodily blocked the shot but I didn’t. And for a few days I wondered why I didn’t. Then I realised that I didn’t because I was afraid it would be a handball in the D-area and that would mean a penalty. That has happened on a few occasions during practice. Sigh... I apologise. It won’t happen again next time. I’ll definitely train harder in the future.

The Sem 4s did not rejoice for long because Sharkfish equalised the score before the end of the 7 minutes (thank God!).

We expected the match to go into Golden Goal time but instead we were up for a nerve-wrecking penalty shootout. 5 players up on each side. Prem was supposed to take one but she requested for me to take her place instead (not that it did any good...).

First kick was from Sal Sem 4. It was, erm, weak and Priya easily saved it. Next up was Ning Ning. It was a solid, hard kick which went in. Yay! Okay, my memory’s a bit fuzzy in terms of the Sem 4 sequence but I know 2 kicks went in, one from Sunila, the other from dunno who. After Ning Ning was TXR. She missed. Then it was me... and I kicked the ball straight into the goalkeeper’s arms. *sheepish* Cap’n KLin’s turn came and obviously it went in, being the super striker that she is.

It was the last kick for Sem 4 (I think) and Priya did an absolutely marvelous save BY DOING A PICTURE-PERFECT SPLIT! It resembled something like this:

Everyone who saw it was amazed and blown away by her gymnastic skills. And when it was her turn, I knew we would go into the Finals because I had absolute confidence in her kick (she’s another damn strong kicker). And we did, and we were all ecstatic and overjoyed, we almost cried. It was a very emotional moment. As Prem accurately observed, the situation was like the England Vs Portugal match in Euro 2004.

BTW, the award-winning referee was in charge of the penalty shootout, too. Not only did he not disqualify the penalty by one of the Sem 4s for kicking before the whistle was blown when he should have, he also had the nerve to ask Coachie to referee the Finals BEFORE the penalty shootout was over, thinking that we would lose the shootout. So, he doesn’t just lack ethics – he lacks manners, too. How pathetic.

Final score: Sem 3 (1 – 1) Sem 4 (Penalty shootout: 3 – 2)

Woman of the Match: Priya ‘Gonzalez’

VI. Finals: History Repeats Itself *smirk*
Sem 5 won their match against Pharmacy so we were up against them in the Finals. We weren’t so nervous about meeting them as with meeting Sem 4, actually. Hey, we beat ’em before (us – Sem 1, them – Sem 3), we knew we could beat ’em again. When our band of supporters dispersed for a while to grab something to eat/drink, I panicked and asked the Assistant Coach about their whereabouts and actually said this without thinking: “They can’t leave now! We haven’t win (sic) yet!” Talk about being prophetic... or cocky. :P

To give the Sem 5s credit, they put up a valiant fight. They were far more organised than we remembered them to be and yeah, they showed that they deserved to be in the Finals as well. Their pair of strikers were pretty dynamic—us defenders didn’t get to rest on our laurels much, and the goalkeeper was pretty competent, too.

The first goal gave off a very good vibe, but after the second goal, I knew we clinched the gold medal. The third goal was rubbing salt onto their wound... damn syok, I tell ya.

“3 for Sem 3! 3 for Sem 3!” The final minutes felt like eternity.

The whistle blew. And the rest, was history. ;)

Final score: Sem 3 (3 – 0) Sem 5

VII. Special Mention: The Red Sea
Cap’n KLin and her mum made this beautiful M2/03 banner to hang on the pitch and spur us all on (thanks again!), but it was much easier to see a sea of blood red (the colour of the guys’ football jersey) from afar. Thank you so much to all the supporters who were there to cheer us on: Peter, the M2/03 football dudes, those not in red – the M2/03 basketball guys (who came straight from their own win too – funny how 4 separate events for our batch could happen simultaneously...) and batchmates who specially came to lend us moral support. Thank you sooo much!

Thanks to you all, especially the Red Sea, we felt more energised and inspired on the pitch. The atmosphere was electrifying; we could almost hear the air crackling. Everytime you guys roar your cheers or sing (“Ole! Ole, ole, ole! Ole! Ole!!!” or “Glory, glory M2-oh-3!”), we didn’t feel quite as frightened or nervous or alone on the pitch because we knew you guys were behind us all the way, 100%. And that was such a comforting and confidence-inspiring feeling.

Thank you very much again for lending us your voice and courage. Your presence made a world of difference.

VIII. Statistics / Highlights
Goals scored (excluding penalty shootout): 11
Goals conceded (excluding penalty shootout): 1 (the one that got away...)

Highlight #1 – TR literally rising to the occasion by saving what was thought was an un-saveable goal. You were in real top form, Roomie. I’m very proud of you. :)

Highlight #2 – THE split. What more can I say?

Highlight #3 – Cap’n KLin’s goal-scoring celebrations. They are a delight to watch. :)

Highlight #4 – Prem the Great Wall of M2/03’s clearances. Damn solid.

And that’s finally it for this post. I know it’s been a bit of a long one, hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it. For post-gold medal thoughts and celebrations, stay tuned to this blog!

Report by,
Team M2/03 (The Red Foxes)


Post a Comment

<< Home