Wednesday, 14 October 2009

SAM part 1/3

Sam was gentle and kind. He was my best friend and I loved him. We met one day in a football match. We beat his team 6-1. Sam was a terrible goalkeeper. He’d move to stop the striker but it would be the goal net that caught the ball. At the end of the match it was customary for both teams to shake hands. If I knew that moment was the beginning of my journey with him, I would have made more of an effort to remember the details.

Unbeknownst to me, Sam and his family had moved into our neighbourhood during the summer break. I only realised when I noticed Sam in my year 9 tutor group. He approached me and asked if I was keen to help him prepare for our local football team trials in two months. Despite knowing he didn’t have the ability, I agreed.

“Run Sam! Run! You gotta move faster if you want to get into this football team.”

“Jesus, I’m not like you. I’m not keen on running, that’s why I choose to play in goals.”

We stopped the session and took a break. Sam’s entire body crashed to the ground. His right knee rose creating a triangular shape and his arms were flung over his eyes revealing soaked armpits. His chest moved feverishly. During these weeks of training, I grew to admire Sam’s commitment. He never missed a single session and he always attempted every task I set out for him. The crazy thing was that Sam would fail them but even then, he’d smile, come back the next day and try again.

“Right Sam, It’s time to go home and rest. To be honest, it’s not like Marshmead F.C. The boys here are really focused and some of them aspire to play at national club level,” I said despairingly.

I really wanted him to be part of the squad, but the calibre of the players in our neighbourhood were far beyond the ability that Sam possessed.

“Sorry if I snapped at you earlier, it’s just that I play not because I want to be a footballer but because I like hanging out with the boys. Look, I’ll do my best, if I can’t make it as a player, I’ll go as a spectator. No shame in that. And you’ve been a great trainer and coach.”

“Thanks mate but…”

He stood up, playfully punched me in the stomach and walked ahead.

“But what? Let’s go. I need a shower!”

Despite his appalling skills, Sam was accepted into the squad as a second keeper. It was never his ability that granted him his place but rather his sheer optimism and easy nature. Everyone enjoyed his company and nobody doubted his efforts. Even the coach had to admire and respect his tenacity.

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