The School ground: A box of various shape that taught the best lessons of lifeRaphy had joined a new boy's school for his high school studies. The school was famous for academics and sports and Raphy being an average student, always loved football and was interested to join the school team. Being an average student and the only son, he was much pampered and had all the laziness. When the announcement was made in the school for students interested to join the school football team to reach the school ground at sharp 5:00 am for the selection, Raphy got excited and was eagerly waiting for the day to break.
The next day, he got ready and went to the school ground for the selection and he was lucky enough to be selected in the U-12 school team. Everyone was asked to come regularly for the practice at 5:00 am and never to miss any practice as it can even throw them out of the squad. As Raphy was lazy, he would be always late and missed practices with wage excuses. The school coach once asked Raphy to call his parents and when enquired, his father informed the coach about Raphy's laziness and casual attitude. The coach was impressed with Raphy's game but this attitude had to be changed and informed his father to trust him as he would help him to change his so-called lazy attitude and make him a responsible player. From the next week, the coach started keeping his one eye on Raphy and started implementing some changes in the team.
The day he came late for practice, he was given extra punishment of running 10 extra rounds of the whole ground and any argument would lead to an additional round. Slowly Raphy became punctual and obedient. The first lesson learned. He started loving the sports and learned many new tricks, moves, and a firm spot as stopper back in the school team.
As he progressed so also his team and years. When we were in his 8th standard and playing in U-14, he missed his opponent and that got a self-goal which even was a horrible thing. He got low and understood his blunder. He got frightened as the assistant coach and his teammates started blaming him for the loss. His eyes got wet but his coach came to him, put his hand on his head, and told him that it was part and parcel of the game, leave it and focus on the next match, never get discouraged as there is always a second chance to bounce back. The faith and trust of his coach helped him gain confidence and played the next match with more energy and spirit, he learned that forgetting the past and focusing on the next is more important and trust of people can help cope from any situation.
In the same year, the team was sent for the district level and as Raphy was short but playing as a stopper back, he had to face the issue of handling the aerial ball and the opponent would always take that advantage and at times would even hurt him on his head and face in the running. The coach knew his weakness and told him to make his weakness his strength and to cover his height with his swift move and robust body. He got his answer and from then onwards, he started using his short height to make a fast move and tackle the opponent striker and pull the ball from his leg and even his stiff body made it hard for the opponent to pass him. He learned that even the weakness when seen from different angles be changed to our advantage but we need to learn to accept our weakness.
When he was in U-16, the team was playing with a loose team and had a full expectation of winning it easily but the team lost. Everyone got upset and started blaming each other but the coach was silent. The next day when they met in the ground, the coach informed that it was everyone's fault as you took the opponent very lightly and everyone was playing their individual game and not as a team. The game lost is lost but you must learn to play as a team, never underestimate anyone as it cost you the cup. He learned the next lesson to be a team player and never take under-estimate anyone as you never know when they will overpower you.
Raphy and his team won the district level U-17 games held in Nasik when he was in his 10th Std. and was asked to play a match for Maharashtra state team selection. Raphy had a good chance of being selected but his both toenail plucked off and could not play, sitting on the ground regretting the condition. His coach understood his feelings and informed him that do not worry, something better may be waiting for you. The selection committee selected 5 players from the team and was supposed to go to Delhi in November. During that period, their school organized a fundraising football match with top international players like Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri, I. M. Vijayan, V.P.Sathyan and others of our country, and Raphy was selected as one in the playing 11. He played with them and his coach was sitting and watching him, after the match, he placed his hand and told him that he was blessed and said when one door closes, you need to wait and knock another one, never get discouraged. That same night, the coach passed away due to heart attack, Raphy was left speechless and could not hold his tears. The assistant coach went up to him and consoled him saying, you are lucky to be present and your coach saw you playing and even blessed you. If you would have been selected for nationals, you would have missed this.
The school ground though not a box but has the full capacity to teach its students the best lessons of life to be punctual, obedience, to let go, to focus, to take the blame, never to be overconfident, to convert our weakness to our strength, Never to give up and always look for opportunities than crying over spilt milk, etc. Raphy still remembers every lesson he learned from his coach and the school box i.e. the ground.
(My entry for: A school box - creative writing contest)