Two months later
3rd July 2014
The chilly morning breeze sailed quietly through the gates of Tagore Academy, making its way towards the two young boys who had decided to hit the school early. The sun was barely out and the roads were empty too, except the occasional joggers and birds who were filling the breaking dawn with their chirping, making a sense of freshness, happiness and confidence surge through the two boys.
"I am going to play in the WORLD CUP!" A sharp voice roared through the empty campus of Tagore Academy, his voice rising at the end of the sentence.
"Angad, it's just four in the morning. It's too early to get hyper!" Shashank groused his childhood friend, trying to put a stop on his occasional outbursts.
Angad, who was jumping around the empty pathways, suddenly stopped and averted his gaze towards Shashank who was glaring at him.
"Why do you always have to break my heart like that?!" Angad replied, his dark eyes filled with mock anger.
"It's good to have dreams. But your continuous declaration makes me feel like I am friends with a five-year-old."
"Hey! I don't sound like a five-year-old! But wait, how does a five-year-old sound?" Angad countered, only to get confused. His head was propped on his right hand as he was deep in thought thinking about the difference between a five-year-old and a fifteen-year-old.
"Yeah, exactly the way you are sounding now." Shashank grinned.
"Ugh, whatever, but let me tell you this I will definitely achieve my dream. I will play in the world cup!" Angad announced, his hands, balled in fists, raised upwards towards the sky, as he shone with determinance. He was serious about it, there was no hesitation or even a slight sense of fear that he won't be able to do it. The only thing that mattered to him at that moment was to move forward and take the first step towards that goal.
"Oh, really? Mr Angad Varte is going to play in the world cup when he can't even shoot properly?" Shashank interjected, his face covered with a grin.
"I am getting better every day," Angad countered trying to save himself from his onslaught. "Five out of the twenty shots I took yesterday went inside the goal! And even my passes have started to become better. I am really on the right path of becoming the greatest player of all time!"
"Come on, tell me what is it that I don't have that other great player have?"
Angad regretted asking when Shashank went through his fingers to start listing off.
"For starters, your stamina isn't enough to accommodate you to play a full match, at most you would only last for sixty minutes or so on the field. And do not get me started on the basics: your passing is average, your shooting skill sucks, your dribbling skill is below average. And the most annoying of them all is that you're loud and you're shit and I hate your face."
Shashank watched as his best friend's face went through various phases of acceptance. Starting with offence, only to drop to just plain grumpy, then a moment of confliction only to land in the middle of admitting he had a point.
"Did you really have to say that last part aloud?" Angad countered with whatever was left of his baseless confidence. "Couldn't you have just ended with 'your dribbling sucks but if you work hard then you will become good'? Did you really have to say that last thing?! I think not."
Shashank didn't want to laugh, but the childish face Angad made with his cheeks puffed out and his eyes begrudgingly looking at him, was just too damn hilarious.
"Ugh, I hate you so much. Can you please erase yourself from existence?" Angad puffed in anger as Shashank laughed off.
Even though Shashank was being honest with his statements, but at the same time, he couldn't deny how much Angad had grown in the past two months. Two months ago he was just a kid who had fallen in love with football and had the sudden urge to play without knowing how to play. But now he was still an idiot who loved football, but an idiot who had worked hard enough to be chosen to stand on the football field and chase the ball.
He can never forget the words he said to him that day, even if it was coming from someone who had never even touched a ball once it struck him. And fast forward to today, both of them were here to take the trials to be chosen for their school football team.
Angad was still sulking in a corner, angry at what his childhood friend had just said.
"Hey, Angad, let's go! We don't have much time until the tryouts and you still need to work on your dribbling, if you are not able to pass all the cones today, you won't be chosen."
"I know!" He barked, his face still down.
"You still suck at playing football…"
"There you go aga-"
"And that's understandable. It's just been two months since you first touched the ball and that's why you are not good yet. However, remember this, you don't play football alone. With me by your side, I will make you the best player, so trust me, and run!" Shashank declared, his fingers balled in a fist as he stretched it outwards asking for a fist bump to which Angad obliged. His anger from minutes ago disappeared as his dark eyes shined with happiness accompanied by the biggest smile."That was actually cool, you know!!"
"However, that still doesn't change the fact that you are far from beating me in football."
"Hey! I am not going to lose the next time!"
"Yeah, yeah. Say that again after a hundred years and I might believe you."
The duo continued their routine banter as they walked towards the football field.
Things were going to change. What awaits the two in that field? What will happen in the trials? They didn't know that yet but they would know soon enough.
Established in 1999, Tagore Academy is still seen as a baby school compared to other power-house schools in the Jodhpur district. However, in the matter of one decade, Tagore Academy has built its reputation from the ground and became a power-house school itself. In terms of football, the school has brought the best results in the state.
They are ranked tenth in the nation and have made it to the Nationals thrice in the past five years, their best results in the Nationals being in top 4 in 2011. With all the results in their bags, the Football team of Tagore Academy is often called the absolute king, the one that would never falter and will win. Just like it sounds the football team of this school is far from amazing and so is getting into the team.
The rules are strict, they have morning practice beginning from five ending at seven giving the students an hour to prepare for classed and in the evening the practice begin at four and continue until seven.
To get into the school team won't be a walk in the park, their trials are not tough but they aren't easy either. From the point of view of a veteran, it can be termed as a 'textbook trial' however even a textbook trial can be hard for someone who has touched the ball just two months ago…
Tagore Academy Back Field
The warm breeze signalling the end of summer sailed through the campus of the Tagore Academy, filling it with its hot presence. The classrooms were all empty except for the few where students were still going through their school work. The fields were all filled up with students in their respective jerseys, the volleyball team practised in the front field near the basketball court whereas the badminton team used the school auditorium, the swim team had their own poll in the eastern section of the campus and so were many other sports fields.
However, the one that mattered the most to our duo was the majestic football field in the backside of the main school building.
"We're going to be late!" Shashank stated with urgency, the trials were supposed to begin at four and Angad still hadn't changed into his football gear.
"Give me five minutes…"
"You said the same thing ten minutes ago! Come on we won't be allowed in the trials if we're late!"
"I know! I am almost done" Angad replied, his fingers gripping the doorknob of the washroom as he pushed it open quickly. He was wearing his usual red sports shirt accompanied with black shirts and his football boots-they were a gift from his mom when he began playing the sports.
"The field is so large!" Angad said his eyes never ever leaving the sight of the majestic football field Infront of him-the Tagore Academy football field.
"Don't you dare get nervous," Shashank commented, a smile plastered on his face as he saw his childhood friend staring at the field like a five-year-old kid looking at his favourite toy. Never had he thought there would come a day when Angad would actually fall in love with football just like he did all those years ago. Life is always so unpredictable and amazing at the same time, isn't it.
"Ufcorse I won't get nervous… like I am totally fine and I am not going to mess up at all, I I I will be chosen for sure."
"That's how anyone who's nervous sounds."
Inside the football field, the coach was still giving instructions to his team, while all the students who had been interested in joining the team stood at the sidelines waiting for him to approach them. All of this was entirely new for Angad, he has never been into sports in the past so he never tried to get into any teams or so, but for some reason, he always used to play all kind of sports for fun.
' I have never been into any sports as far as I can remember and never have I ever been possessed by something so much that I would be able to dedicate my everything for it but for some reason…'
Aiden's dark eyes gazed over the field, the goalposts on either side, the white markings that divided the field, corner flags all of it enthralled him in their claws. The boy who had started to play football two months ago had finally reached the very place he yearned to be at.
' I feel that I belong to this place. I don't know if it's the fact that I watched Enrico Santos that night or the fact my heart always beats faster when I am playing football but for some reason, as I am standing here my heart is screaming at me telling me to run into the field chase the ball score a goal!!'
On other hand, this was something Shashank had experienced more than once, the sense of pressure and nervousness one feels right before the big moment, he was all too familiar with this feeling, after all, he has been here before and conquered it but even if you are an amazing player and has something that other don't it's still natural to feel nervous when you haven't played this game for over a year.
Shashank signed. His eyes weren't on the field rather it was gazing downwards over the green grass, he was wearing his red football boots-this boots were something that meant a lot to him.
' I have always loved this sports called football, ever since I can remember I have always been attached to this sports in one way or the other and yet after the district tournament last year I gave up on playing. I know that I am a coward, I also know that that football is a harsh sport that will swallow anyone who doesn't work hard enough to be standing on the field b-b-but after returning to this place that I had left, once again I can feel that sensation the one you feel when you have returned home after a long trip.No matter what happens this field will always be the place where I belong to'
Shashank had tears leaking from his eyes, his vision became blurry as the tears he was trying so hard to stop filled his eyes. It was at that moment Shashank Singh understood that no matter what happens the football field will always be that one place he belongs to.
There were around twenty-five players who had turned in for the trials. It was going to be a tough competition since the team could only take eighteen players and out of that five players had already been chosen from their U 14 team leaving place for only thirteen players.
"Hey isn't that Shashank Singh?" Someone whispered within the group.
"What are you saying there's no way the football Genius Shashank Singh would be among us. With his skills, he might have been already joined the team. He's at a different level than us." The other replied.
"Really is he that good. I heard last year his team was thrashed by Lorenzo Public School, even though his team were the favourites to win the tournament." A boy wearing a yellow jersey replied wearing a smug look.
"Lorenzo Public School. Oh, you meant Hardik Tanwar's team. I understand what you are trying to say even I was there watching the match."
" I know right. In the first half, both teams seemed like they were even but in the second half all of the passes made my Shashank kept on getting blocked."
"It might have been a nightmare for him. After all for all the passes made by a midfielder to get blocked by the opposition is something that will lead to the loss of your team."
"I even heard he quit football after that match. Like it was too much for him"
"Well, Geniuses are always fragile, can't be helped" the boy finished while laughing.
Shashank was used to hearing all these gossips ever since that match last year, so it never seemed to faze him but the same couldn't be said for Angad.
"What do you mean I don't understand?" Angad interjected the group who were talking about Shashank.
The group of boys were shocked when Angad suddenly ambushes them with his question.
"What are you talking about?" The boy in the yellow jersey asked.
"You just said Shashank quit football after the match last year but he is right there," Angad said while pointing his finger towards the brown-haired boy who was trying hard to hide within the crowd.
"He is really her-" The boy in the yellow jersey spoke astonishingly only to be cut off by the coach.
"Good evening everyone. As you all already know I am Drona Agarwal the coach of Tagore Academy football team. And today I along with my manager Ashwin will be choosing fourteen players from among you for our U-17 team." Drona said, his eyes scanning everyone's faces intently.
A/N the new chapter of First Touch!! Is out. It took me some time to write this chapter but anyways I have finally completed it and it's posted now.
Hope you guys like it and like always Happy Reading! Please like, comment and share. It inspires me to write even more.