“Hopefully those two tsotsis have given up and run back to Jozi by now,” Khaya says as we strap on our shin-guards in the changeroom.
“I just hope the police catch them,” I say.
“I wish we could catch them,” Khaya says smacking his palm with his fist.
I smile. I never would have thought it, but Khaya and I have actually become pretty good friends. Last night I told the older boy all about what had happened with Nails and Shorty. I also told him about Silver’s Treasure, the notebook filled with soccer strategies and game plans. The two of us stayed up half the night discussing the different plans my dad had detailed in the book.
“Let’s go teach the rest of the team,” Khaya says lacing his boots.
We walk out onto the pitch and join the team sprawled on the floor around Mr. Naidoo.
“Thanks to Nathi, Khaya and Henry, we have a game plan to work on,” Mr. Naidoo says. “Since they’re working so effectively together I’m going to let them take you through it.”
I take the lead, talking the team through some of the drills in my father’s notebook.
While my practice sessions with the Professor had been all about my individual soccer skills, Silver’s notebook is about working as a team on the field.¬†And I’m amazed at the depth of my father’s understanding of soccer. In his notebook is a strategy for every kind of opponent: physically strong opponents like the Brazillionaires are to be dealt with by slowing the game down; technically strong opponents are to be handled by using bursts of speed and power. Silver had thought of it all.
After an hour of drilling, trying out new ways of passing the ball quickly and effectively to each other, Mr. Naidoo blows his whistle. We crowd around him again.
“Your next game is against the Dragons and will be your first game in front of a full audience.”
As I listen to him I feel my palms getting sweaty. I’d played in front of a crowd at the Streetskillz tournament earlier this year, but they’d just been locals from Du Noon. The street soccer league draws a much bigger crowd.
“There’s one other thing,” Mr. Naidoo continues, “this game is going to be filmed and televised live country wide. You’re all still young but this is a great opportunity for those of you hoping to become professionals one day to reveal your talents to the world.”
My heart pounds with excitement. We’re going to be on TV!