The man heard a soft crack from his knee as he knelt down on the sun burnt grass.
“Okay, remember to stay with the ball. Call for a pass if you are open. Help your teammates move the ball.”
The boy grasped a water bottle as he tilted his head back and took several long gulps. The man wondered if he had even heard him. He gave the boy a quick once over. He was sweating a fair bit. The lower portion of the boy’s blue and white jersey was covered in grass cuttings. Ditto for his shin pads and shoes.
He must have sat down on the field at some point, the man thought.
A whistle blew indicating the water break was over.
“Okay, get back in there buddy. You’re doin’ great”, he said.
The boy handed back the water bottle and ran off towards the pitch. The man settled back into his camping chair, rubbing his knee. The boy’s coach was making a pointing motion in mid air as he mentally counted the blue players on the field. Satisfied, he nodded to the referee. A few seconds later a second whistle blew and the game resumed.
A swarm of blues surrounded the ball. Where the ball had once been was now obscured by a furious blur of kicking legs and size 2 cleats. It was impossible to see exactly which blue player eventually made contact but the ball popped out towards one of the defending red players.
Almost immediately the blue swarm flocked towards him. Unsettled, the red player tried to pass laterally to his left towards an open teammate. His kick missed the ball completely and he hurriedly attempted another pass. By now it was too late, two blues challenged him. The pass ricocheted off a blue shin towards the red’s goal.
The man searched but could not locate the boy’s #2 jersey – like a herd of zebras it was impossible to distinguish individual members. A missed attempt by a red defender to clear the ball gave blue an open shot at goal. The red net keeper kicked away the first shot (later the man would decide it was by blue #5). It was at this point the man noticed blue #2 in perfect position for the rebound. The boy ran up to ball and buried it in the back of the net.
It was 2-0 for blue.
Matthew had scored a goal.