The Left Winger

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The whole crowd is roaring now again in the expectation of an equalizer. Some are blowing their Horns, a slightly modified version of the renowned Vuvuzela. Sweat is running down his body, his forehead. He is running fanatically towards the opponents penalty box along the left wing. A good center can create a real good chance to score as two strikers of his team is also accompanying him in this counter attack.

The day before this finals of the renowned "Gostha Pal Memorial Tournament" was not a very smooth evening for him. He was resting after the last practice match with some of the team members when Shibu Bhowmik, the team manger call for him. With a gaping smile he entered into the chamber of the team manager. Their coach Anata Roy was sitting beside the manager. Shibu Bhaowmik started the discussion.

"You are not playing in tomorrows match. We have someone in your place.You know Kaushik, who plays for 'Tallygaunge Agragami'? He is going to be the left winger this time."

Manojit was dumbstruck at this. He was so shocked, that he could not say a single word. With a blank face, he looked at the team coach. He is one of the most successful players in the team, who contributed significantly so that team has finally reached the finals, and now he is not going to play. He could not believe his ears. A fear is gripping him on his throat, choking it so badly that he cannot breath.

This time, like every time, renowned star players and coaches of "Division A" clubs of Kolkata will keep an eye on the players from the finals. "Gostha Pal Memorial Tournament" is actually the chance for many budding struggling players to reach to their destined fortune of better and more secured lives as footballers. Most of the footballers dream is to become a regular player of the "Division A" clubs in Kolkata, so that they may secure some Government job and at least feed their family well. Very few of them really dream of being a great footballer some day.

Actually, the budding skilled footballers are mostly from the middle economy class or lower economy class families, who struggle everyday in every walks of lives to reach the playground from different corners of Kolkata and suburbs. To reach to their dreams to become a good footballer some day with a better standard of living. Most of them loose the battle to poverty and financial scarcity and leave football to earn the bread for the family. Many of them loose for the lack of enough nutritious food at home and eventually being too weak to fight this battle of energy and power. Many of them get addicted to different addictions like smoking or chewing tobacco and finally looses their carrier as footballers, while many of them become scapegoats of the team as they are replaced with "renowned" hired players from better teams.

"See Manojit, we cannot take chances. We are playing on 4-2-4 and want to break the defense from the left side of the opponent. We have replaced not only you but also replaced the two center forwards. It's wining, that matters now, isn't it?" Anata Roy, their coach added.

Manojit stared at him with a blank face again. He still cannot believe what is happening right now. Ananta Da (Elder brother), the same Ananta, who used to motivate him the most is saying such words. The same Ananta Da, who started to feed him with the two eggs daily which Manojit could not afford from his family of two brothers and one sister powered by his mother's widower pension of 3000 INR (60 $ almost) and his own earning of around 600 INR (12 $ almost) a month as an electrician.

Manojit's eye's became smokey. He still couldn't utter a single word, for he understood, there is no point in arguing, no point in asking question. With the left out energy he lifted himself from the chair and headed towards the exit.

"But, you will be playing as an extra tomorrow and we need your best".

The last words of Ananta sounded much like a solace rather than assurance.

Manojit came out of the club and went back to the other team members.When Manojit told them that he is going to be one extra player tomorrow, there was mixed reaction from them.

"At least you are not out of the team. You may get a chance sometime", some of his team members tried to encourage him. While some of them, being more frustrated after thrown out of the team totally for the finals were a bit relieved hearing what happened to Manojit. "We are the steps of the stairs, you know. We have brought the team to the finals now, so we are no more required." they said.

Manojit is around twenty two. If this time he misses the chance to prove himself in the team, he is going to loose the chance to be in a "Division A" team for ever. Manojit got really nervous.

Finally Ananta Da was free. He called Manojit.

"I have nothing to do. I am really helpless. Shibu Da is our employer, your, mine. I cannot go beyond his orders. Still, I know if you get a chance, you can prove yourself. Stay ready."

Manojit remained speechless.


In the first half both the teams attempted to score but they were fruitless attempts. At the beginning of the second half the opponent opened a chance and scored, mostly because of a fault from the new defender hired from some good team.

Around ten minutes later, their team got a chance to score. The new left winger Kaushik, did a nice center and receiving the ball by the right leg the new center forward tried a shot with his left. The goal keeper saved the goal just in time.

There is only thirty minutes left to the game, when there is a serious foul by one of the defenders of the opponent team. Kaushik, the left winger became seriously injured. An yellow card was shown and Kaushik had to be taken out of the field.

"Fight the battle now, it is your chance." Ananta patted on Maojit's shoulder. "Fight it out."

Manojit got the most desired chance of his life. May it be a little late still better than never. In the rest thirty minutes, he can have a good chance to prove himself.

Opponent team is better enough to keep the ball control to them most of the time and this time the whole opponent team is creating a strong pressure on their half. A sudden pass from one of the defenders of their team and Manojit started the counter attack. He started running fanatically with the ball along the left wing. Two of the forwards of his team understood that this could be the best possible time for the equalizer. They started to run towards the opponents goal too. But the defenders of the opponent team are very good. They are also regular "A" division players. One of them caught up Manojit and tried the same old trick of sliding tackle pointing to Manojit's leg.

Manojit, knew that this is going to happen. He jumped over the defender's leg avoiding the rough tackle. People around are roaring in expectation. The goalkeeper has taken position at the left side bar of the goal to narrow the angle, he is running forward to narrow the angle farther for Manojit. But, Manojit just passed the ball with a clean center towards the right forward of their team and goal, this is the equalizer.


Now only five minutes to the extra time. Both team are at one goal each. Manojit again is running for the ball. He just received it . He is running again towards the opponents goal. Just crossed the mid field. Three of the defenders are running towards him. This time they will not miss Manojit, and Manojit doesn't stand a chance to escape. The right winger is running to in the line and the two center forwards are inside the penalty box area. The whole opponent team defense is present near the penalty box to stop them to score.

"When you can see the way to the goal posts and the goal keeper is not on the line of your vision, try to shoot, you may score." Ananta Da told him some day. In practice matches Manojit tried this twice, and once he even succeeded. "If you think this is the last chance, then take the chance yourself." He recalled another line of Anata Da, he recalled some excellent goals scored in the world cup by "Diego FORLAN" of Uruguay, one of his favorite players.

He can see the net of the goal post now. The three defenders are now closing in, and though he cannot beat them, he can view the open net of the goal post over their shoulders. The goal keeper is not on the line. Manojit also can hear a voice shouting over the prolonged roar of the people. He can hear Anata calling for him.

"Maar Mano Maar". (Shoot now Manojit, shoot.)

No second thought came in his mind, picking the ball with the right leg, he made a volley it towards the goal with his left foot.

As if the time got stopped, the three defenders approaching him have stopped and the other players are looking at the ball. The goal keeper at the right bar post is watching helplessly while the ball, like a cannon-ball entered into the net.


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