It took Ace only one practice session to win the coach’s admiration. He became Pele’s favourite, so much so that Pele even selected him for the weekend match. Ace used the chance he got and scored two goals, and so Tembisa Tigers won.
Unsurprisingly, this created animosity between him and Scara, especially because they both were left footers. Ace could use both, but he was stronger with his left one. Scara became jealous of Ace.
“This village boy is getting on my nerves now. The coach treats him as if he is some kind of god. He is going to destroy my career. I can feel it,” Scara said to Stix one day during practice interval. He was watching Ace speaking with the coach.
“I thought I was the only one who hated his guts. Just look at him. He’s been training here for some few days and already he acts as if he is better than everyone. Idiot!” He sucked water from his squeeze bottle, loudly.
“Next time the coach is going to give him my position. I’m telling you, jo. Did you hear him talking about how he can form a deadly combination with Lebo?” His eyes were narrowed and his anger grew when he saw the coach laughing, with his arm around Ace’s shoulders.
“Nxa. Imagine. He wants to take your position and eat your sister? O ya hlanya (He is mad),” Stix said, casually.
“What do you mean … ‘eat my sister’?” Scara frowned.
“Yah! Don’t you know? He is dating your sister, Naledi,” Stix said with a grin.
Scara fumed and stood up, his fist clenched. “I’ll kill him. I swear I’ll …”
“No, boy, sit down.” Stix pulled Scara by an arm and forced him down. “Don’t act like a fool, man. What do you think the coach will say if you cause a fight? Mmm?” he said, glaring.
“I don’t care, man, I just want to teach that bastard a lesson!” Scara was fuming. “Village boy!”
“No man, listen,” Stix snapped. “We must hit him where it will knock him out for good.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve a plan. A plan that will force the coach to expel him,” Stix said with a cunning smile.
“How can we do that? Phela that coach really likes him. No, there is no way he would do that,” he said, shaking his head.
“You know that he is pushing drugs, right?” Stix said, his voice low.
“We steal them. All of them, before a game, make sure he finds out. He’ll lose focus during the game. Then the coach will be furious and never use him again.”
“Joo!” Scara was scared. “What if Bra Themba finds out that it was us? He will kill us, Stixa. Do you know that man? He is a devil itself, bro! Satan. No way,” he continued, shaking his head.
“Come on, boy. We will make sure that no-one finds out. Believe me. I’m a professional when coming to that. Just imagine how mad Bra Themba would be? He’ll definitely ban him from playing soccer again. I’m telling you. This will work.”
“OK, I’m in. Let’s do it.” Scara gave Stix a high five as the coach blew the whistle and everyone went back to training.
Ace was excited because it was Saturday. The coach had told him that if he performed well he would take him to the Nedbank Ke Yona Team trials coming up. Ace knew that competition – a youth talent search – and what it could do for his career as a professional soccer player. He was determined to do his best to impress Pele. There was no way that he was going to let this opportunity pass him by.
“Hei country boy, do you have the stuff? We told you to bring more today, mfo. Most players from Rangers are our friends. They can’t play without snow, bro,” Scara asked Ace while they were in the toilets.
“Yah, I’ve brought more today as you requested,” Ace answered, washing his hands.
“Good. Just don’t sell to anyone yet; I’m still going to talk to the guys. I’ll see you later,” Scara said and went outside.
Ace followed Scara to the field. He put his bag on the touchline under the bench. Scara passed him a ball and asked him to pass it back. He started dribbling by Ace, challenging him to take the ball. Then, after a while, Scara said he needed the toilet, and ran off. Ace went back to bench, grabbing his bag from under it, and joining three other players there, chatting.
“Ace, can I see you?” Scara called, approaching. Ace stood up and followed him to the toilets, his bag slung on his shoulder. Stix was waiting. “Listen village boy,” Scara said, smiling, “I’ve spoken with my friends. They want ten packets of snow, man. Ten packets!”
Stix nodded. “Here is the money,” he said and handed Ace a bundle of rolled notes.
Ace counted the money and unzipped his bag.
Tell us: Are Stix and Scara being foolish or will their plan work?