Rose positions the ball for another corner kick. The cross sails in and Khaya and I struggle so fiercely with each other that we both miss the ball. It rolls past the goal and into a mud-filled ditch. Khaya goes to fetch it and I’m shocked to see him pick up a rusty nail and stick it into the ball, puncturing it.
“The ball’s flat,” Khaya says, throwing the deflated ball at the Professor’s feet, “and anyway this is stupid. I could beat him in my sleep.”
“You could have won,” Rose says as I squat down on the muddy ground breathing heavily.
I nod, but I’m not so sure about that. Khaya is very strong and hates to lose. A few of the neighbourhood kids have been watching and Chippa comes over.
“You played really well,” he says, “better than you ever did with The Dynamites.”
I shrug, bitterly disappointed that I hadn’t been able to beat Khaya.
“You can come back to the team as a substitute against the Aces,” says Chippa, “you really proved yourself out there.”
My spirits instantly soar. I’m back in with a chance!
The Professor smiles. “Well done, Nathi, you did well.”
“Thanks Prof. I’m exhausted, I think I need to go and chill now.”
The Professor shakes his head. “We have training remember?”
The Professor cuts me off.
“Just because you get into fights, doesn’t mean you can skip practice.”
I watch Ayanda practice yet another flick-flack on the sidelines and I sigh ruefully.
“Ok, ok. Let’s practice.”
I cheerfully wave goodbye to Chippa and Rose. It’s a good feeling to be part of the Dynamites again. And then I drag myself to my feet.
“Now your major problem is that you’re too stiff.” the Professor says. “You’re so worried that you’re going to make a mistake that you’re not flowing with the ball.”
“But how do I do that?” I ask wearily.
“Pretend you’re dancing,” says the Professor. “There’s a reason they call the Brazilians ‘the Samba Boys’, you know.”
The Professor does a few old-fashioned dance steps.
“Soccer is like dancing, it takes rhythm and grace. The Brazilians play like a Samba and the Germans play like a well-timed waltz.”
“And now it’s your chance,” says the Professor as he points to the muddy field, “I want you to dance to get into the rhythm.”
I gulp. I hate dancing and I know I’m going to make a complete fool of myself.
Image: Wiccked, CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Nathi is not much of a dancer. What advice can you give him to stop him from making a fool of himself?