By Ahmet Abdulaziz ….
Those who know me would not believe that I happened to be in a football ground recently.
For the whole of my life, I had never played football. As far as I remember, way back in 2006, I had visited the football ground of Galatasaray in Istanbul, just because my sons wanted to see the game. (They are crazy followers of Galatasaray). Apart from that I had never gone to any football stadium to watch a match or entered a football ground.
I happened to be in Mersin, Turkey, where my son was getting married. It was a simple marriage ceremony between the two families and close friends. Interestingly at the same time a masters team of footballers from Lefkoşa was there, playing a friendly match against the local masters’ club.
Since we were also staying at the same place where the players of NICOSIA MASTERS were staying, I had a chance to meet them. It was the very first time in my life that I was meeting some football players, most of whom were celebrities during the 1980s and 1990s. Some of them were out of form, whereas some were in very active form.
At the breakfast table I met them for the first time, a friend of ours introduced us to them. At the very outset I told them that I am more than a novice in football, I had never played football even on the street as a child. So I found myself among persons, who were discussing nothing except football. They were all full of football knowledge. They were discussing various international football clubs, their players, new transfers, their standard and style of playing etc etc. As was obvious, it was not possible for me to discuss football with them. With my zero knowledge of football, the best thing for me was to just listen, which I did.
The match was scheduled to start at 5pm, whereas the marriage ceremony of my son was scheduled for 7pm. The ground was just next to the place where the marriage ceremony was to take place. The future father-in-law of my son, who was also a part of the team, took me to the match. At first I had thought that it would be something like a 5 a side sort of match on a small football ground. But no, it was a formal match going to be played with eleven players a side, on a normal football ground. Since it was just a friendly match, there were no spectators, except one, who in fact was none but myself. I was given a chair to sit on just by the sideline of the pitch along with other players.
The players of both the teams were getting ready and going through their stretching exercises. I simply sat there to see how the celebrities of yesteryear were trying to meet with the terms of time. I tried to visualise what those celebrities of yesteryear would have been thinking at that time. With advanced age and somewhat out of practice, they would have been thinking about the days when they were in their top form and at young ages. But time had passed. However, it was equally applicable to both of the teams.
As the match started, both the teams struggled to form a combination of players in their teams. Both the teams found it difficult to adjust for quite some time, since the weather was hot, and the players had to struggle to manage a combination and to develop an attacking movement. The age differences among the players was obvious. Some players were still able to run quickly and having better stamina, but some were lacking both.
However experience was the major factor. Both teams had experienced players, having experience of not only playing football at top levels, but also of coaching and monitoring matches and performances of various teams. Both teams were able to chart out attacking moves, but usually the speed of the game was not too fast, for obvious reasons.
The players at the same time were also enjoying the match. It was just a friendly match.
Since we had to leave early to attend the marriage ceremony, the match continued when we left the ground. Later I came to know that our team had won.
The team players also attended the marriage ceremony.
Indeed it was a wonderful experience for me. For the first time I had felt how it feels to be inside a football ground, and to sit with the players.