Thursday, March 5, 2009

The BITSAL Experience

World Cup 2006 was when I first started watching Football. I was watching a news channel and a sports update on the news channel showed a 'Steven Gerrard special' goal scored in the World Cup that day for England against Trinidad & Tobago. It was something which really caught my attention and after joining college when I started playing the game on my PC, that goal was still fresh on my mind and eventually I developed an interest for Gerrard and the club he plays, Liverpool FC. Thanks to the Manchester United supporters here as they irritated me so much that a slight interest for LFC was no more 'slight' and I became a regular follower of the club.

That was something about my television interest for Football. When I actually started playing football here, it was accidental. My friend and I had to wait for something and he suggested that we go play football and as I have 'seen' a lot of Football -or so I thought- I readily accepted his idea and there I was, amidst a group of footballers who were regular players and all I did was what I was good at doing- watch. I watched them play with commitment and when I got the ball, not long before someone grabbed it from me. I was just not prepared and left immediately. It wasn't humiliating but just taught me that cricket should not be your game all through your childhood.

As I kept on watching matches and playing the game on PC, it was not long before I found myself wanting to actually play the game and there we were, a bunch of hostel mates playing Football in our limits. At first going for the ball was a scary thing to do as your opponent may not only win the ball but also knock you off your balance. Slowly and with more game time I could calm myself, think and play some meaningful football which may not be the best but was satisfactory.

Then in the January of 2009, a 5v5 football contest was held under the name of BITSAL and the organizer was a good friend of mine. Concrete stones were used to set up the goals and the game was played on basketball ground. I was the linesman (assistant ref) for a lot of matches. Though as a linesman there were some controversies the best part of my BITSAL was about the journey of our team. People from our hostel teamed up and I joined their team as a substitute and we called ourselves 'The Pirates of Arabian'. After the grouping was done we found ourselves in a pool with 3 other teams which were reasonably good with regular players.

Our first match was after a long, tiring day of classes and due to the absence of a player of our team due to fever I had to play the first match from the beginning. We had a good striker and theres a hardworker who covers the entire court and the rest of us had no specific roles. As expected we had to defend well and it was a 20 minute match. I didn't see a lot of the ball. When I once had it, I immediately passed it to the striker who had his shot just wide of the target. Then his brilliant effort from long range gave us the unexpected lead and we were 1-0 up! I was very tired and was called off and substituted after 14 minutes. It was a great feeling leaving the field with my team leading the match. Sadly moments later the other team had a penalty and it was 1-1. But immediately a penalty was awarded on the other end of the field and our goal scorer converted the penalty also and won the match 2-1 for us. It was sheer joy as we won our first match and 3 points were in the bag.

I didn't take part in the next 2 matches as our team was completely fit. Unfortunately we lost the 2nd match 0-1 conceding a goal in the last minute of the match. Due to other results in our pool we had to win our 3rd match by atleast 2 goal difference which was a huge asking. Just at the beginning of the match I went to have a glass of water and I heard huge screams of joy. Then I was told that our team scored the opener and we were 1-0 up. I was watching anxiously when the same fellow who has been scoring all our goals made it 2-0 and left us with lots of hope. But, he had more to offer as he completed his hattrick and we were untouchables at 3-0. The events which followed though were heart breaking for a team which worked so hard. We conceded 2 quick goals towards the end of the match and were left in shock. Though we won the match and had 6 points, the same as the two teams which qualified, we were eliminated due to goal difference factor which is the tie breaker. I quickly went to my team and congratulated them for their efforts. Though we were out of the tourney, our team was well remembered and still we keep the spirits high for the next tournament.

As for the present, we play similar kind of football for 2 hours in the night daily and not to forget the lime soda which brings us back to life after the tiring play hours :).

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