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My favourite Football match.

January 9, 2022

La Liga was perhaps the most exciting when Messi and Ronaldo played for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. Ever wondered how would the team comprising of both Messi and Ronaldo be? Read on…

Can any of you guess as to which is my favourite football match? It is not ‘El Classico’ – Barcelona vs Real Madrid, nor is it Brazil vs Argentina nor Italy vs Germany. It is not even India vs Pakistan, nor Mohan Bagan vs East Bengal. Well it is match I not only witnessed in person but also was a part of it. Let’s say it was Team A vs Team B.

Whenever you watch a game of football on television, have you ever wondered as to why the spectators and players display so much unnecessary passion on the field? If so, then you have not played the game the right way!!! It is not just playing for your country or state or college or club that ignite passions, but even if you are playing for your house or a random team. Sports took centre stage once I joined Baldwin Boys High School in Bangalore in 7th grade. That’s when I learnt that if a sport is not played with passion, one will never grow as a sportsman. I also realised that one can follow, understand and enjoy watching a sport more if one has played the game in the right way by following the rules, displaying sportamsnship and performing with right spirit. Our school was divided into six houses and these six houses competed against each other in sports, debate and other such competitions. Each of these competitions was taken part with so much of pride and spirit that the essence has become a part of our life.

I hadn’t played any team sport apart from Cricket till I joined Baldwins. It was compulsory for boarders to play from 4:30 to 6:00 pm every single weekday day and during weekends one could play the whole day. We had to study from 6 pm to 7:30 pm, so bell is rung at 5:50pm (first bell) to let us know that in 10 min we have to sit for studies. At 5:55, bell is rung a second time; at this juncture, we had to either be in the dorm, or be ‘running’ towards the dorm.

It was halfway through my first year (7th Grade) in Baldwins when I had learnt enough of hockey and football that I was worthy enough to be selected in the playing eleven. I am born asthmatic making me tired soon while playing most active sports, so I settled being a defender or ‘backie’ – slang for a defender. My position was right back in Football and left back in Hockey. During my hostel days in Baldwins, we had this peculiar way of choosing the teams. Any two of us would be designated as captains. One of us would toss a coin and the one who wins the toss gets to choose the first member of his team, then the other captain chooses his first team mate and so on till there are no more people left or till captains have eleven members each. The one who wins the toss would invariably choose Abrar as his first pick and then his best friends. “If you have Abrar in your team then your team would win that match” was the belief, be it in Football, Hockey or Cricket. He was good in other sports as well such as Table-Tennis, or Basketball and excelled in Athletics. He had this knack of excelling in any sport he played. In order to win the game, one had to win the toss so as to choose him in your team. There was never a draw when we played as we used to have penalties if such a thing ever happened. In other words, a face saver never existed – it is either win or lose.

It was during one of those Football matches when Abrar had scored 2 goals against us and we were yet to open the account. Our team captain made it clear that we are going to lose anyway and now it was a matter of pride. “We shall not concede any more goals”, he yelled. The time was 5:30 and in another 15 to 20 minutes, we would have to stop playing and we have to make sure that we don’t shame ourselves by conceding more goals. The entire team went on the defensive and the other team was trying its best to annihilate us. One of our team mates, Govinda, had other plans. In other words, he didn’t care for the captain’s message and he managed to score a goal, a solo goal. It came out of the blue. Now every member of our team was beaming with a big smile. ‘We are not going to lose without scoring a goal’ – is a big consolation.

Nevertheless, we were in a tricky situation and even the captain was clueless – should we attack or defend, should we go for an equalizer or settle for a ‘not so ignominious defeat’. In another 5 minutes however, Govinda scored another goal. There was a ‘hush’ silence for a second to see if the goal is given or not and once the goal was confirmed, we were so ecstatic and we screamed so much that almost the entire hostel who were playing other matches in other grounds, stopped their games and came to see our match. We all bellowed and hollered and hugged each other and what not. ‘Common guys’ lent the air. Both the teams went in a huddle to figure out the strategies for the next few minutes. Both the captains gave 45 seconds of the most motivational speech of their lives. The play resumed and this time without any strategies. It will be down to penalties I thought – It is good to lose via penalties than an outright loss. With a bit of luck, a weaker team can also win through penalties. Just then the first bell rang. We all decided to play till the second bell. Abrar wanted to prove a point and tried his best to score a goal but our team fought valiantly with renewed energy as if our lives depended on these final 5 minutes. “I will let the ball pass through only over my dead body” – I said to myself. I was thinking and I am sure everyone else in our team were thinking – “is it possible…”? Guess the chorus of the evening? – It was ‘Govinda’, ‘Govinda’. I don’t know whether we attacked or defended as a team, but I know for sure that the opposition attacked us and this helped Govinda make spaces in the other half and and in the next few seconds, just before the second bell rang, Govinda scored another goal!!! That is one of the best hattricks you will ever see. Clenched fists were thumping towards the sky. If you wondered what interjections are, you should have been here that day. “Yaay”, “Wooaah”, “Ooooh”, “Shucks!”, “Ayyo!”, “F@$k”, “H#*y S~^t”, and other grawlix filled the air. It was disbelief to everyone who watched and played the match that evening. The second bell rang soon after. I don’t really know as to what would have gone through Abrar’s mind that evening, but I am sure that he felt terrible. I had never seen him that furious. He wanted to carry on but our team wanted to stop. Our team had won and that feeling of achievement lasted for a long long time. I had never experience so much passion, teamwork, pride in playing arena ever before. I feel blessed that I was part of such an intense match and more so to be part of the winning team. Whenever I see any match where a team comes from behind, I am reminded of this game. This game also taught me the power of resilience, teamwork, self belief, and ‘never say die’ attitude.

It is one of those incidents that can change your perception forever. “So Abrar’s team can lose…” was the realization. From that day onwards, the captains were never afraid of losing the toss. “If you choose Abrar, we choose Govinda” was the attitude. In a matter of time, Govinda became the first choice for many captains including me (whenever I was made one). Over a period of time, it was an unwritten rule that Govinda and Abrar would never be in the same team so that the teams could be even and the games become entertaining.

Govinda, my classmate whom I am still in touch with me, is in my opinion, one of the biggest underachievers among my school friends. For someone who excelled in such an array of sports, he was quite a calming nature – similar to Rahul Dravid of Cricket. He is the best sports captain our school never had. Our school has a culture of appointing a boarder as the Sports Captain and he could have easily become one. He achieved stardom in hostel without trying hard. A lot of us respected him and would have been exceedingly happy to see him as a sports captain or a prefect. He never tried and he never bothered to impress his teachers. Abrar (a year junior to Govinda) went on to become the sports captain the following year and brought a lot of laurels related to sports for our school.

Now to answer the question – If you ever wondered how the team that comprises of both Messi and Ronaldo be, then it is like having Govinda and Abrar in the same team and fortunately it has happened as both Govinda and Abrar were in my house – ‘Oldham House’, and it was difficult to beat our house. No wonder that Oldham house was sports toppers during my time in Baldwins. Both of them also represented our school helping our school in bagging inter school sports trophies.

  1. Suman Raghu permalink

    Long but 👍👍👍 Abrar & Govinda will be happy to read 🙂

    • Anyone who has stdudied or has been a boarder in Baldwins or a similar school will resonate with this.

  2. Sheetal permalink


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