On the following Wednesday afternoon, Analo submitted the indemnity form at the Safe Hub Soccer programme. She was led to the soccer field by one of the staff. She saw Linam dribbling the ball towards the goal post.
They walked over to a young woman who was wearing track pants and a T-shirt with the word ‘Coach’ in big, white print.
“Hi, Coach. This is Analo and she’d like to join your squad,” the staff member said.
“Hi, Analo. I’m Asiphe. Have you played soccer before?”
“No, not formally, but I would love to learn,” Analo said, already looking enviously at the girls who were playing soccer, while others were warming up on the edge of the field.
“That’s great. Some of the girls here had never played before their first coaching session. One of our top players was scouted for a trial with Ajax Cape Town.”
“I would love to … one day…”
“Don’t be afraid to dream big. The club is a place to meet people that can help you achieve your dreams. It’s also about more than competing. It’s a lot of fun, and you learn important things about working as a team. Things which will benefit you all through your life. We are here to boost your confidence and help you to develop your passion.”
Analo wanted to hug her. She could see Asiphe really cared about every member of her team.
Asiphe blew the whistle to call the girls to her. At the far side of the soccer field Linam waved at Analo. She saw him and waved back with a smile.
“This is Analo and she will be joining us today,” the coach told the girls.
Analo teamed up with the players who were warming up and Asiphe then let her play in a game. She didn’t have soccer boots, so she played barefoot. Analo was very quick on the ball, making it challenging for the defenders to tackle her. Then her team was given a free kick, close to the other team’s goal post, and Analo took it. She kicked the ball with great power, putting it into the back of the net. When the time was up the score was 1 – 0.
After the match Asiphe approached Analo while she was putting her school shoes on. “Were you telling the truth when you said you never played soccer before?” she asked, smiling.
“Yes, coach. I used to kick the ball about a bit with Tata when I was younger but I’ve never played in a team. I’ve watched soccer a lot with my dad, so I know the rules. I still watch when I get a chance.”
“If you keep on playing like that you will go far, girl.” Asiphe looked at Analo’s feet and asked, “What’s your shoe size?”
“Four,” Analo replied.
“I have soccer boots that I don’t wear. I will bring them for you tomorrow,” Asiphe said.
“Thanks, Coach!” Analo couldn’t believe her luck.
“Analo! wait for me,” Linam called after Analo, when she was on her way to the taxis. She stopped and looked back.
“How was your first day?” he asked, running up to her.
“It was fun! I enjoyed every moment of it,” Analo said.
“Wonderful. Now I will see you on Wednesdays too,” Linam smiled. There was an awkward silence.
“Anyways, how are you doing in school with your chemistry?” Linam said eventually.
“Still struggling. There’s a lot of things I still don’t understand.”
“You have to study hard to pass. Especially now with the exams approaching. But you know, this could be your last year you have to do any physics or chemistry. You don’t have to choose Physical Sciences for Matric you know.”
“But I do,” Analo blurted out. She thought of her parents. “I’m going to be a chemical engineer.”
Linam studied her face closely. “You don’t sound like you really want to.”
Analo looked down. “Can you tell?”
“You don’t talk about it the way you talk about soccer – with passion.”
“I just don’t know how to tell my parents. This is their dream for me.”
“But is it your dream? Maybe they need to see how much you love soccer and that you will work as hard as you can to pass Natural Science this year. You could do Life Sciences next year if it’s the physics and chemistry that you struggle with.”
Analo didn’t want a lecture from Linam. She was stressed enough already, and when the taxi came she felt relieved to be getting away from all the questions.
“See you tomorrow,” she said. “ELower ngase zitrakhini, driver?”
“Ewe, Ntombi,” the driver told her to hop in.
“See you!” Linam said, watching the taxi as it sped off.
Analo couldn’t wait to come back and play again the following day. She knew she had said only Wednesdays, but she had overheard some of the girls saying they were playing the next day too. She wanted to show the coach just how committed she was.
Anyway, it wouldn’t hurt her parents as long as they didn’t know, she thought.
Tell us what you think: What do you think of Analo rebelling against her parents’ decisions?