“Soccer is played in football pitch, not cassava field” the coach said.
Jerry and other players stood there in their sweat soaked jerseys mopping at him and wondering what he is getting at. The man had been the coach of their school now for three years and within that period, the team had not been performing. In fact, who he took over from had been far better than him. To think he was one of the outspoken advocate of change against the man was funny really.
“I have been telling the management to do something about the state of the pitch and so far, I am yet to hear from them. There’s no way a man will perform without adequate materials to work with. That had been our problem here.”
Jerry eyed others who in turn were wondering if the man had gone fully bonkers. The previous coach had not been manufacturing excuses for his wins and losses. To think that this coach Mr. James had not seen the state of the pitch as reasons for his predecessor not delivering while lobbying with others for the man job was confusing to the players.
“ Excuse me sir. I think that the reasons for our poor performances so far is not actually the pitch but the tactic and system we had been employing” Jerry said.
“ How do you mean, are you faulting my system or are you questioning my experience or what?”
“No sir, I am not questioning your ability. Am just wondering if it would not be wise for us players to join in reviewing the clips of our opponents. Maybe, we might see what you missed”
“What I missed, so, you are telling me that three of us in a coaching crew can’t reviews a clip well, right? “
“Not that sir, I mean our last two games was not all that good. We kept defending and defending while our opponents were all out offensive. That seems bad approach to me sir”
“Why then did you conceded three goals since you were all defending”
“ That is the problem sir. The best way to defend is always to attack. That was what our opponents knew well”
“ The pitch can’t be the only problem. Your mindset is the major contributor too. Now I know. If you players had had a good mindsets, we would have easily won our games. But your traitorous minds won’t allow you. I am glade you voiced it out openly”
They kept glaring at each other for about three minutes.
“ I think all of you has to sign a declaration form and state your allegiance to the school and the coach. Your loyalty is questionable but I strongly believe that you are being sponsored. I would surely found out who”
The players started eyeing their watches in annoyance. The man antics is beginning to get to them. Each time they came for three hours practice, the man would spent half of it talking about unrelated issues. After, it would be the fault of the pitch. Practical is done in the pitch, drawing on the board. Why interchange them. The mad coach would spent better part of the theoretical training playing football in the class while using stick to draw on the ground when it is for practical in the pitch.
“ I saw some people I thought were from the school board the other day in this pitch. I was surprised to learn they were from the local government Secretariat. Maybe, the school management contacted then and they came to see things for themselves”
Having been exhausted by the man yakkings, the players sat down without asking for permission. Orders for them to get to their feets were ignored. It took the intervention of the assistance coach for them to continue with the practice.
Three days after that, Jerry and five others the coach believed were the ringleaders were summoned by the school authority disciplinary committee to defend themselves from the allegations leveled against them by Mr. James.
“ I have before me allegations against you clique from your coach. You have been the ones sabotaging our school efforts to present our best image through sports by your evil gang ups against us. So, who had been sponsoring you people?” the committee chairman began
“Sir, since three years now Mr. James became the coach, what had been the ratio of our wins to losses?”
“I don’t know. I believe we can found out if that matters. Answer my questions first with answers not questions of your own”
“sorry sir. I will be surprised if the coach even know the answer to that question. Meanwhile, excuses are hallmarks of losers that is where am heading to. Mr. James is seeking for who is sponsoring us against him. Ask him, Is there in any match we did not follow his instructions to the latter?”
“I am still confused. Where are you people really heading to, I am still not getting you”
“the coach kept talking nonsense each practice time. We thought we were in the pitch to practice and prepare for our next games. But each time, he would spend about 80 percent of the practice time telling us stories of cassava, school board, local government officials and other unrelated issues. Then, he would use the remaining time to draw what we don’t know on the ground and tell us how to defend our goal line. I bet he doesn’t even know what is zonal marking in soccer”
“ Stories of cassava and local government officials? Well, we received letter from the secretariat that some scientist would be using that field at times in the afternoon and nights for some observation purposes. We heard that they had a kind of voting coming up. But they would be transporting their equipment from the state capital each time they had any use for that place. They would not be mounting any equipments there permanently. You would be notified by the school anytime your time and theirs crashes. So how does that effect your output?”
“ Ask the coach, I don’t know”
“ So Mr. James, who do you say is sabotaging your efforts?”
“Sir, I am wondering if new pitch would not be provided for us, this one we use now is not all that smooth”
“ Smooth how? Do you want us to be sending you to national stadium each time you have practice? Your opponents, where do they practice?”
He kept opening and closing his mouth. This minutes, he is sure of himself, next he is guessing. That had been his MO for three years now. If he is not mopping, he is vibrating like broken records.
The pitch where they practice has what the astronomers referred to as the correct site to observe the planets outside the Earth.
Nigerian astronomers were part of the teams international astronomers invited to vote on Pluto remaining a planet. Some scientist had argued against the size of the planet while others sees it as sacrilege to even consider voting on such issue. Nigerian astronomers had seen the pitch as the best site to spy on Pluto morning and night while Mr James sees it as worse to play on.