I am 22 and I finished my M.Sc. in Computer Science in June 2005 and have been working since then. I'm from Pune, BTW. Work sux and I miss college life and all the freedom. I miss hanging around with friends till late in the night, sitting on the ground after a tiring session of football, coming home with sore toes and dirty clothes.
Me, football freak? Naah, not really. I only started playing and watching football since 2000 when my friend left for another city to do his MBBS. We had played cricket in his lawn every single day since school.
When he went away, I remember for about a week, the three of us who were a part of this lawn cricket team had nothing to do. We came down to the park near his home and sat on the park bench discussing stuff as usual. Somehow we were a little amused & suprised that our sporting life was over...at 17 ? I'd never followed any sport except cricket till then. I did play badminton and table tennis at the court sometimes but nothing that I did every single day of my life. Nothing except lawn cricket (thats a new term !!). I hated football and I never watched any matches neither did I know any of the teams or the players. Euro 2000 was the first football tournament that I watched and Holland turned into my favourite team and Dennis Bergkamp, my favourite player. I later started liking Arsenal when I came to know DB played for them.
One fine day, I met up with an old school friend who used to be in touch all the time but he never played with us. He said they played football in the evenings and asked us to join in. I took this proposal to the 3 member committee in the evening at the park bench and it was passed with a unanimous vote.
We went over in the evening to the huge ground that we have near our place. There we saw three (or maybe four, I dont remember) guys tapping the ball around and we looked at each other and thought simultaneously "looks like this is going to be a lot of fun". Sarcastically, of course. Anyhow, we started the gig that day.
Started out as someone who couldnt even stop a moving football properly but I've graduated to being a decent enough player though my left is still non-existent !! I cover it up with an unconventional approach of using the wrong side of the right-foot to get the ball to go in the other direction. It does look weird but is more often than not, effective.
We played everyday. We went to Goa, took the ball along, tried to play on the beach, the ball got filled with water and we had all the red marks on our legs within a few minutes and we dropped the idea of playing on the beach. New people came in sometimes. Sometimes we played with 6 folks, sometimes with 22. It was always fun. It got into my system. I had a challenging thing to do after a long time in my life. I dont know why but I never concentrated on academics as much as I should have. My only guess is that its for this very reason...challenge. I never thought academics was challenging enough. I always studied for one or two days before the exams and got a first class or a distinction. Football was always challenging. Specially because I started out as one of the worst players in the group. It was a challenge for me to, every minute, try and live upto the best in the vicinity. I loved it ! I've always loved playing underdog. The underdogs always make the most news when they steal the thunder !!
The only thing is that i just cant seem to get it into my system that now all my friends are working and they do not have the time and energy to play football everyday. Somehow, its the only sport I've played since the last 6 years and hence I just cant believe that if I have the energy to play, why cant my friends and that to me, is inexplicable.
It started when a bunch of the guys started working. Then we stopped playing everyday. We only played on weekends. We continued for about a year in that manner. It was disappointing and at times frustrating when we had to call off play because enough people didnt turn up. I hated it when I waited for the whole week for the weekend and then due to some sloppy lazy idiot, we couldnt play. It might seem unreasonable to accept it but the real reason was that these people very often committed that they would be there and then they didnt turn up. When we started out, we often played with only 4 players, two a side...with a very small field marked out. Believe me, that was an amazing exercise and helped me improve a lot because you were invariably in the game 100% of the time. I couldnt understand why the same people had suddenly lost motivation.
The problem worsened when another bunch of guys left for other cities for their jobs. Then it got very irregular. We played once in a while and then for weeks at end, we didnt play. Now, we played last week with 4 people again. This week, no one had the energy to repeat it. This last week was our first play after 7 or 8 months.
Its easy to see that its not just about sport. Its about a challenge. I like challenges. Sport to me, is the amongst the most challenging things in life. Though the stakes may vary, one thing is always at stake and its very important. Your self belief. I cant sit at home and do nothing. It just isnt in my blood. I've said this many times to a few of my friends..."this just isn't my calling".
Football or no football, I will always strive to do things which keepp me moving. I've started working and I'm no more a teenager but somehow, I dont feel old. I dont feel weak, I dont feel ...MIDDLE AGED. For a good while, I had this Bryan Adams poster on my wall that said "18 till I die".
Lack of enthusiasm is a symptom for the dreaded disease called FAILURE.
I pray I have the same energy and the enthusiasm forever !!
P.S. : All the supra-corny quotes underlined here are a by-product of my own neural reactor otherwise known as the brain.