Last year during the annual office picnic, someone had come up with the bright idea of having a soccer match. It was apparently good for team building. My team at Chennai did not have anyone who knew what soccer was (All of them watch cricket or at most football). However, no one was unduly worried. After all what was the probability of someone in the opposing team actually being good at the game.
It turned out the probability was pretty high. The other team was from Delhi and comprised people well over six feet who had put in two weeks of practice. Thanks to a token nod to gender equality a woman member was present in both teams. The lady from Delhi looked meaner than all the guys collectively in the Chennai team. P was representing the women of Chennai. P was dressed in pretty tracks and a cute sleeveless T-Shirt and a headband that let her tresses stream behind her as she ran. Unless she was going to beat the other team with sheer sex appeal, the chances of her contributing to the team did not look high. However in a team of 5 ft something-60kg men, she was not really bringing down the average quality by too much.
The match started. The Delhi team pounced on the ball with a vengeance. M, the only fit member in the Chennai team, bravely charged back and turned to the others to gauge a pass. This is what he saw – Ar was tripping over himself and falling. He picked himself up but again tripped after a few steps. Ar had had one too many drink the previous night and the results were showing. Within 30 seconds the disoriented guy went to the sidelines and sat and in another 10 seconds was joined by D who had given him steady support the previous evening. The subs had figured out that this was a losing match anyway and there was no sense in being mauled by rowdy opponents while losing. Within minutes, the team was short by 2 people.
P had been positioned somewhere at the back and after a while figured out that she better atleast run up and down to look like she was contributing. Good corporate philosophy obviously. S, who was the goalkeeper stopped for a brief second to comment ‘P you do know that the warm ups are supposed to be done before the match?’. P slunk back to standing at her place and watching the game. After a while she noticed that S was missing and looked around to see S in the midfield. Disheartened at the play in progress, S had clearly decided to take matters into his own hands and had deserted his post. P decided she might as well stand in front of the goal post instead of in the corner of the field.
The game meanwhile was exploring new nadirs. V bumped into K. M was still chasing the ball hopefully. Luckily he could manage to because by now the Delhi team was collapsing with laughter. After a while Delhi scored a couple of goals, which P could not stop. Of course since she was not technically the goalkeeper, it would have been pointless trying to stop the goals too. There had been six matches going on simultaneously and the commentator suddenly realised the comic potential in the Delhi – Chennai match. Within minutes he drew the attention of the entire crowd to the match. Nervous, V and K bumped into each other again. P started running up and down the field again given the number of people watching. S continued his position in the middle of the field. A and D had wandered off in search of some beer to recover from their hangover. The rest of team was scattered - all away from the ball.
The match came to an end. The Delhi team (the mean ruthless guys) jubilantly called out nasty things to the Chennai team. But if team spirit was what was meant to be promoted, the match had achieved its goal. The Chennai team tacitly agreed that it would never discuss the match again. Till date when someone mentions soccer we all grin and nod at each other quietly like members of a secret society.