I played. I mean, I played too. You could announce that with the choicest of drum roll! It was delicate nudging and them some conversations that got me.
I had no idea of what in the world FUTSAL meant. “A much shorter version of football, with none of the silly rules that football has, like off-side, etc.” was an explanation that was neat. In an age where you dont take a walk without looking up the weather on the web, I promptly searched the net to find more. The details there pretty much spoke the same stuff.
An enthusiastic do-gooder added, “It’s just a very small playing area plus there is a net on top. So, no aerial shots beyond a point”. That seemed even better. “The ball is never out. As there are nets all over”. He meant, "if I could do it, so could you". Have you heard of that innocent line from an accomplished Matador that tipped over an innocent bystander into the bull fight ring? If you didnt, well you just did not.
As a master strokes someone who I wont name, sent me this video.
This Futsal thing looked so easy that a 'Thats all?' that my lips spewed into the air.
Perfect. I thought. I showed up.
Little did I realise that the game can tire you out in ten minutes. Little did I realise that the football that you see on TV, lazing around with a bowl of Popcorn and swinging the TV remote like a Japanese Samurai waiting to switch to a soap if the match got 'boring' required a very different kind of energy.
In seven minutes I was panting like a dog. If you weren’t any good at passing the ball quickly, you better sat out. Luckily the chaps, good friends they are and God must definitely bless their good souls, humoured me all along and I played for a good time.
Realisation dawned that many years of being a corporate wage earner and being part of a variety of ‘passing the buck’ games hadn’t prepared me for this Futsal thing! Of course, I must be quick to point out the difference between ‘a buck’ and ‘a ball’
But play teaches you several things. Like, how easy it is to underestimate challenge. How simple it seems from outside. How silly you look when attempting something that you thought were skills that you came into the world with. Of course, how intense the game can get, bringing out the best and worst in people! And how ten minutes of what seems to be aimless running around can have you pooped and drained.
Minutes after we finished, the kids took the pitch. Whatay delight it was to watch them play with awesome élan and control.
I was refreshed. I was tired. I had aches in parts of the body that I never knew existed. And then I did a mistake that old men like me should never do: Replay images of the kids playing, in the mind! For it makes an old man feel much older.
Beads of sweat showed up. All over again. I am getting old. But the time to play is now.
As it always has been.