We all jog back out towards the pitch, but I stop suddenly when I see a familiar face in the crowd.
The old man smiles and I run over to where he’s standing at the edge of the field.
“I didn’t think you’d come,” I say, looking down at the ground ashamedly, “not after how I acted.”
The Professor nods sagely.
“I knew something was happening with you, Nathi, and that you must have been facing some tough decisions.”
“I didn’t realise it at first, but the people around me – you, my mom, Rose and my friends – they’re actually more important to me than soccer is. I began to believe that I needed the ‘killer instinct’ to get ahead in life, but now I’ve realized that I actually don’t.”
The Professor smiles.
“That’s a very important thing to have learnt. It certainly took me a lot longer than you did to learn that.
“I’m so sorry for the things I said Prof.”
“I knew that you would make the right choice, that’s why I’m here today. Now go and finish your match.”
I flash him a huge, grateful smile before I turn and jog towards my teammates.
“Ok,” Henry says as I reach him. “We’re losing 1-0 and Tong is still furious about your foul. We need to pass quickly and make sure they don’t get possession.”
Khaya and I nod in agreement, and the three of us touch fists.
The ref blows the whistle and Khaya restarts the game, playing a quick ball to Henry who feints to his left to outwit a Dragon player, before making a run up the centre of the field.
Just as he reaches the Dragon’s powerful defenders he back pedals the ball to me, and, holding my breath with the effort of it, I curve a long, winding shot into the bottom left of the net.
The crowd goes wild! I breathe a sigh of relief. At least the spectators seem to have forgiven my foul on Tong.
For most of the rest of the second half, the game is tight as Streetskillz tries to keep the ball away from the Dragons. With only a minute left, Tong takes the ball and tries to muscle his way through the Streetskillz midfield, but Henry steals the ball from him lightly, spinning and passing it out to Khaya who plays a long ball out to me. I race up the wing with the ball, aware that Khaya is moving like lightning towards goal. In one fluid motion I turn and angle the ball into the box. Khaya launches himself into the air like a madman and just connects with the ball, ushering it into the top right hand corner of the net at frightening speed.
The crowd roars with delight as Khaya, Henry and I meet in the centre of the field to touch fists as the final whistle blows.
“I think we showed them we’ve got more than enough killer instinct,” Khaya says with a laugh.
I grin and shrug. “Who needs killer instinct when you’ve got Streetskillz?”