The Midfield: Lessons from Pals on the Football Pitch
Omoeux. Lol, don’t check that in the dictionary, it’s from the Ment Men, it means “Oh boy”, a form of sigh in this instance. Welcome back and thanks for reading my stuff all the time, you’re amazing and I truly appreciate it. This time I’ll be sharing my football playing experience and how it connects with my lifestyle. I’ll also be mentioning how some of my Co-Midfielders like Aniekan, Usman, Oscar, Chiadi, Carlos have been an influence on my playing pattern.
Football, a Philosophy and a Culture
Football (soccer) is a philosophy. It is a culture, thus, an expression of a way of life. I started playing really in Grade Six. I played Defensive roles at some points in High School but in my latter years, I functioned in the ‘deep middle’, Four and Ten. My reason is that I like to play the ball, not make runs and hope to get it (as Strikers do) nor parry it away from danger (like the Defenders do) but contribute to the game flow. What this means is that I get to communicate with those moving the Team forward and those supporting from behind.
My Stint with Aniekan
Aniekan was a strong guy, but slow. He was very calculative. We meet in my first year at the University on the pitch. Aniekan could hold the ball and have four players mark him, but he’d still protect the ball and give a smooth pass. Sleek guy. I paired up with him. I was quicker than him, but he had more playing experience. I chased the ball, won tackles, took other midfielders on the run and did the dirty job. He said to me one day I played against his team during Computer Science training: “This Antoni guy, you dey hear, you no dey gree, ha!”. Lol. I marked him so hard, chased down his successful passes and recovered them from those that received them.
That was my attitude throughout my Uni days, ‘I no dey gree for anything, lai lai’. I went for the lectures, even the ones that didn’t hold, I waited to submit assignments when others gave up hope. I refused to listen to those who felt that the ‘school system was a waste of time’, I no gree. It paid off for me at last, thank God.
Usman Messi, my Gee my Energy
Usman, whom I call Messi, is one of my best friends to date. We met in our first year in Uni too. He’s short, quick, smart, skilful and resilient. This one is excellent at multiple sports. He was the best in swimming, table tennis, racing and women affairs, LMAO. Although he didn’t compete in any of these sports professionally apart from football. You know that kind of a ‘best guy’ that isn’t in the game right? We had amazing chemistry on the pitch. Aniekan left the school. I had learned how to delay play from Aniekan, and here was fast Messi. I could hold the ball for long and he’d flank anywhere there’s space and I’ll send the ball, he’ll pick it up and outpace any player that comes near. Together with the team, we gave Accounting 3–3 in 100 level and later 3–0 in 400 level. Our Team won 3rd Place and 1st place in the faculty in a row.
Usman believed in my game style and leadership almost perfectly. I like being around him. He is extremely optimistic and realistic about many things. When I play Fifa video game against others (which I’m a novice at and he a god), he’d say: “Me I know Anthony can beat you if he’s serious”. Men, that’s all the energy one needs to jet. That’s why we rolled together every single day for four years. Cheers Usman.
Oscar, Chiadi and Carlos
Oscar is an ‘Odogwu’ while Chiadi is a clown, both Eagles par excellence. They are super midfielders. Oscar noticed I was still chasing the ball everywhere in the middle so he called during a match and divided the pitch into two. He said: “Iyata, operate from the left, while I cover the right. If I overlap left, move right quickly”. Since then, I’ve always separated the midfield into two logical halves. We won almost all the balls from opponent attackers after that. As is life, Oscar too had to leave at some point, but, leaving me with this lesson: Share the work from the onset, you’d cover more grounds.
Chiadi is always talking rubbish that makes common sense. Lol. “Let us be calming down” is my favourite phrase from him. Chiadi thinks the ball should be passed on the floor directly to whoever should get it. He doesn’t believe in uncertainty with passes. He feels it’s better to give a direct pass than waste the ball forward to someone that may not get it. He believes in perfect confidence in oneself. “The worst tin wey fit happen be say dem go collect the ball for your leg, but sha no waste pass” — Chiadi. He represents confidence. When I mixed this with Usman’s optimism, the result is Courage. You need that in many things, especially when you feel challenged or you face an opportunity, it is best to approach it head-on, ‘with your full chest’, what’s the worst that can happen?
Carlos, now Senator Musty of the PIA together with Success. LMAO. He’s a skilful all-rounder who operates in the middle and defense mostly. He said: “Iyata delegate, Iyata delegate, if you do everything you’d gas out”. My issue was that I wasn’t calling other midfielders to do their job. An attitude that’s poor for a leader. I was trying to respect everyone’s space to the detriment of the Team. Whether you’re younger or older, more talented or not, people need to do their jobs, and if they abscond, remind them, else the society could sink.
F for fenks, again from the Ment Men, don’t bother about the meaning Ma’am/Sir.