My mind is absolutely clear as I steadily return the Professor’s gaze.
“I want to be a great player.”
“Then the only thing I can do is wish you good luck,” the Professor says, “I know your father would have been proud.”
I smile at my mentor. The Prof has already given me more than I could ever have asked for. I’m going to repay him by being the best player that I can possibly be.
Later, when I’m walking back home Khaya’s father, Mr. Thobela, pulls up next to me in his Mercedes.
“”I hear you’re becoming quite dangerous with the ball,” Mr.Thobela says.
I smile at the praise, “I’ve been practicing.”
“You know who you remind me of?” Mr. Thobela says, “Luis Suarez.”
I stop walking. Suarez had committed a horrible professional foul against Ghana. What is Mr. Thobela trying to say?
“You remind me of Suarez, because he did what he needed to do,” Mr. Thobela says.
“He intentionally cheated,” I retort.
Mr. Thobela shrugs. “Sometimes you’ve got to do the clever thing, even if it’s not right.”
I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. Mr. Thobela usually ignores everybody, why is he bothering to stop and talk today?
“You’ve got to ask yourself if trying to win against the Leopards is the clever thing to do,” Mr. Thobela says slyly.
I stare back at Khaya’s dad. What is he talking about?
Mr. Thobela reaches into his car and pulls out a shiny ticket. “This is for the World Cup semi-final.”
He hands the gleaming ticket to me, and I take it and look at it closely. It’s for the Holland-Uruguay semi-final!
“Why are you giving this to me?” I ask suspiciously.
Mr.Thobela is well known as a ruthless businessman, he doesn’t just give things away.
“I’m encouraging you to do what’s best for you. Everybody knows there are going to be talent scouts at your game against the Leopards. If I have anything to do with it it’s going to be Khaya who wins the top-scorer award. All you have to do is make sure that you don’t score a goal and that the Dynamites don’t win.”
He smiles at me. “You just have to be clever like Suarez. You’re not ever going to make it as a pro and you’ll forget all about this game. But watching a World Cup semi-final? That’s something you’ll remember for your whole life.”
Image: Shine 2010 – World Cup Good News, CC-BY-2.0
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Nathi is a good guy, but he’s tempted. What do you think he should do?