10-15 Tournaments – 0 matches wins – 0 Tournament wins.
This is sadness right?
You might be guessing about teams with such a low performance level.
This one’s different.
This is the story of my college life.
There were some of us who shared the passion for football. We made a small team comprising of 6 guys. We weren’t the best. Hell, we weren’t even good. All we had was the love for the game.
We decided to play for rink football tournaments which are basically for 5-8 players and the ground size is lesser than half of the actual football ground. Now don’t think since the space is small that everyone can last the entire game time.
Wrong. Did you know that the pace of the game increases with the reduction of ground space? So smaller the ground, faster will be the game. We worked on our stamina to last an entire game. It was tough but over the course of a couple of months we could last an entire game. Then was the turn of the next hurdle I.e. coordination. I believe without coordination and team work, no team can succeed. So we found out our inner strengths, played along and in time, we had a good coordination level.
Over this period of understanding our strengths and weaknesses, we practiced after lectures, tried getting better with each training session and playing friendlies to find out how good did we fare in the game.
Now the results in the practice games sometimes don’t highlight everything. The nervousness, the fear is less when we play such matches. It gets a zillion times worse while we actually play.
We got the taste of that nervousness in our first match ever. It was for a team of 5 with 3 substitutes which can be used anytime in the game. We got scared. Not one pass was mad correctly. We lost 6-1. The goal which I scored was from a penalty. That was the only shot on goal. The most embarrassing part was the opposition had been playing in their jeans and we were decked up to play mainstream football. So many people watched our game, laughed on us. I still remember that day and laugh on it.
Over the course of 1.5 years, we kept going to tournaments in different colleges, only to lose in the first round. Sometimes we got humiliated, sometimes we humiliated ourselves with the performance. Once, we lost against a team who had one player lesser than us. That was the day our morale was tested. I had lost every bit of hope.
Then I faced my biggest challenge.
In our final year, we decided to play our last tournament. 2 teams from our batch also were participating there. They came up with a theory where they suggested that we make 2 good teams with awesome players and 1 weak team. In all honesty I’ve never felt that disgusted. How can you degrade someone by telling them they are weak? Winning is not everything. Sometimes even your efforts count. I remember one professor who called us losers because she knew we would keep losing. Over time, she respected us for never giving up. She was always our support and gave us permission for all such tournaments.
Anyways coming back to the situation, I was asked to play in the supposedly “strong team”. Now honestly, my loyalty was tested. I really wanted the taste of winning at least a match once before my college life was over. I could get it all if I would join the other team. I wanted to win, but not without my friends.
I chose my friends.
The others asked me to reconsider. But I had decided. Had it been 100 losses on the trot, I’d still be with them.
The tournament was nothing less than a fairy tale.
We not only won 1 match, but went on to the semis.
Imagine the delight when we heard the final whistle which was rung for our victory.
We were overjoyed. We had done it.
On the course to the semis we defeated one of the “strong teams “on penalties.
Yes, we did. We of course lost the semis to the other strong team (who FYI were really good) but we earned some respect in the form of both the teams coming to us and telling how badly they had underestimated us. It feels really good when your opponents come ahead and praise your efforts.
All in all, that step I took helped me understand something really important.
When the going gets tough and you want to succeed, there will always be 2 paths i.e. an easy path and the actual path.
The easy path is like a joy ride which gets over soon. You don’t really earn it when you take the easy route.
The actual path is what we are supposed to do in that moment.
What we decide shapes our destiny.
When in doubt of myself, I always think of that day when I took that bold step which would lead to the greatest victory my team ever had.
And that’s one of the most prized moments of my life.
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