It’s the last game of the year. I have to prove myself today. I’ve got to make in into the first team next year. Today I’m going to do it for my team, but also for myself.
Kebone has also come to see the match. She’s somewhere in the stands among the crowd. The air smells of shisa nyama [braai]. Excited voices, flags everywhere. I walk to the change rooms. Then I see him. Njabulo is also here today.
He smiles. My body goes lame. I fight my feelings. He walks towards me. “Hope you have a great game, Nathi. Show them, mchana [son]!”
I stop breathing for a moment.
My thoughts spin into overdrive.
Later, on the field, things go horribly wrong. Our team’s plans are just not working out. It’s as though every guy is on his own mission today.
Fortunately the other team is also making a mess. Two free kicks help us to creep up towards their score.
All we need is just one goal to equalise.
And then the chance comes.
The ball is kicked high and forward to towards me. In front of me is a gap to the goal-line. I am on the sideline, but I’ll be able to do it. The ball lands at my feet. I feel every muscle in my body kick into action. Now is my chance!
The other team’s men come flying nearer. I keep my eye on the goal-line. I’m going to plant the ball right there next on the top corner of the goal. I already see myself doing it.
The crowd is going mad.
I run like I never have before. A dive from the other team misses. Forward! Another dive. I duck away from another man’s flying tackle. Treading left, right, left.
I’m right by edge of the penalty box. I dribble past another defender.
The whistle is not blowing for the goal. I stand up. Look at the referee. “You just missed, wemfana [boy]” he says to me.
QUESTION: Eish, so much pressure to perform! Tell us about one of your near scores or misses … maybe it’s not about a sports miss, but rather not getting a high enough grade for a test.