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Indian Superstar - A Marketing Gimmick

Jayant Sharma, former amateur footballer from India finds his feet in football management
Started on 15 July 2018 by Akash
Latest Reply on 17 July 2018 by ScottT
 
I've not done this in a while so let me describe how this story will work. I'll be playing FM18 with this fictional character but there'll be a good chance there'll be no mention of the game or its contents for a large chunk of my posts. While I'll weave my results into my posts, they'll probably not play a major role into how the personal side of the story is told. With that said, I hope you enjoy the story; I've not written something in a while so not sure if it's any good. Have fun!


The Special List


After finding no success in my playing career, languishing in the fourth division of Indian football, coupled with the fact that football coaching was unsustainable locally, I started working on my FA coaching licenses at the age of 22. A novel idea in principle but leaving home for a new country for the very first time and resources being limited, this new life isn’t going as planned.

-BEEP!

I wake up at the sound of the alarm, and immediately jump off the bed, wide awake. It’s not that I was excited about the day to come, far from it. If I don’t feign excitement, I’ll leave my team without a coach for today’s match for the warmth of my bed.

“Another day, just another day”.

I stretch, being careful not to hit the lights or fan attached to the ceiling. It’s not the most spacious room but it’s the best I could afford in this city. Like clockwork, I turned to the wall behind my bedpost to remind myself why I’m here. It’s too dark and I can’t see a thing.

-BEEP!

“Open up!”

I realized it wasn’t my phone alarm but my doorbell, on hearing the muffled voice from the other side of the door. I gingerly walk towards the sound, feeling uncomfortable in the dark. I swing the door open away from the familiar voice and stench outside.

“Sorry, Jay. Lost my keys again. I don’t know what I would –"

My roommate, Emmanuel, stopped mid-sentence for his almost-weekly ritual of vomiting after a wild night of drinking. Emmanuel referees some of the games I coach; that’s how we met and came to become roommates. With him sure to occupy our bathroom for the foreseeable future, I resumed my daily ritual by switching on the light – which flickered on painfully slowly.

If it needs changing, I just hope my eccentric roommate has some cash saved up.

I glance back at large sheet of paper above my headrest, which was now visible.
  • Finish the league season with at least one victory
  • Complete the course & get my first coaching badge
  • Coach a local amateur team

  • The list went on, until it ended with the last goal written in a significantly larger font.

  • Win the European Champions League

  • “Write down your goals; they’ll only come true if the universe knows it. You can’t just keep it all in your head”

    We’d met right after school; she didn’t know much about football but was taken by my passion for the game. I’d asked her once after she came back to my place why she still maintained and carried around a diary, and, soon, she’d started pestering me about writing down who I wanted to be. She wrote down her life story because it reminded her how special every day was and how good the future could be.

    The reality is - she was special. In another world, I would be building my home with her, instead of bunking with Emmanuel in a tiny, dirty room that was starting to smell worse since his visit to the loo. On the last day before I left home and said my goodbyes, I looked back and saw my girlfriend with her fingers crossed – wishing me luck. This list was a way of making sure that she and the universe know I haven’t forgotten about her.

    I wore my trainers, picked up the cones and placed them back in the bag, before leaving the room. The public school ground was where all the Under-8 age group matches were held before school hours, so it was still before sunrise as I jogged towards it.

    Setting up the cones for goals and demarcating the confines of the ground itself, making sure there's arrangement of water and juices for the players and enough clean seating for the parents - all of this and much more fell under my job description. This usually took me around an hour.

    "It's not looking good, boss. You have a long day ahead of you."

    Jamie, the school guard was an acquaintance but could hardly be called a friend. I was still surprised and confused he had said more than his pleasantries as I walked in through the school gym, towards the ground.

    The ground was trashed; the torn banners and pamphlets seemed to indicate there was a reunion party of some sort last night, and the alumni were clearly weren't fans of the dustbins placed sporadically around the area.

    'They're really going to make me earn my payday', I thought to myself as I joined to help out the cleaning staff.
    1
    Great story and great idea
    Thank you @redvee35!


    The Offer


    ”Congratulations to the winning team, you have had a great season and all the best for your upcoming exams to everyone. Remember, it’s important to focus on academics, especially early in your life.”

    It was a well-rehearsed, cookie-cutter speech that I delivered every couple of months. This country, like most in Asia, focused majorly on keeping children focused on nothing but examinations, with sports and extra-curriculars seen as nothing more than a distraction. A few parents even requested me to add another line in my post-game speech about football being just a game but I refused – I don’t do requests, especially the kind that devalues the sport that pays my bills.

    I won’t have to walk back to our apartment as Emmanuel refereed this game; him and his loud scooter await me at one corner of the ground, the closest from the exit. If we would’ve won this game, the other team would have cried foul but that’s hardly a problem when the team I’m managing is 1-8 for the season so far.

    “Those twins in the ‘pposition, ya rememb’r? They’ much older than the age group. I saw th’m before, playin’ Under-twelves. I was the refer-ee”

    “I figured. They were too good for this level, and far too tall. Ah, well, what can you do?”

    While coaching back in India was unsustainable, it’s not like I could survive off the money I was paid for coaching a group of eight-year olds. On reaching the apartment, I jumped into the shower and changed into clean clothes. If I was lucky and Emmanuel wasn’t his usual loud self, I could sneak in a couple of hours of sleep before leaving for my second job.

    -
    I waited at the counter, reading Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. It was supposed to political satire, according to the bookstore owner, but hundred pages in, I was starting to think it was a book just about crows. Sitting at the pawnbroker’s shop in the afternoon gave me a lot of free time to read novels but I spent most of my time deciding the tactics I would deploy or who I would play if I were the manager of a team that lost a historic match. I had already selected my five Chelsea penalty takers at Moscow a decade ago, keeping Terry out of it, which is why I was currently reading. The pawnbroking business picked up after six in the evening, which is when I got off work, so I was hired just to make sure no one comes in and robs the place.

    No such attempts had been made over the past three weeks, since I started this job.

    “You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”

    The pawnbroker had come back; it was almost six. He did the last shift of the day, along with the first and was never late for either. I looked on, awaiting his question.

    “You say you’re a football coach, yes? My son’s team was looking for someone to guide them. They’re a good lot – no Messis or Ronaldos – but I see them play every week. They just need someone to bring them together.

    I did some quick calculations: The pawnbroker wasn’t very young, which would mean the son’s team wasn’t in an age category. For the past eight months, I’ve only been trying to teach kids how to kick the ball. Training a team of adults may give me the experience I need to take the next step. One thing bothered me – why would a local team ever accept a coach selected by a teammate’s father, without any credentials or history?

    “Of course, I don’t expect you to be spending half your days here in the shop if you were to become the coach. I’m assuming the salary of a coach is a little bit more than that of a pawnbroker's assistant?”

    Was the book I was reading really this boring that I had nodded off and was dreaming about this conversation? It seemed too good to be true. I hadn’t known the pawnbroker well enough to know how much money he had but the cash registers were always full, and he hadn’t known enough about me to have offered me this job.

    “…I’ll get back to you on this. I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

    What was I thinking! This man was paying me to coach football; I need the extra hours of coaching to be eligible for the coaching license – this is perfect – I’ll say yes now.

    It was too late though, as this thought occurred to me in the metro, only after I had already left the shop for the day.
    Great turn of fortune. Im keeping my eyes pealed. Great story
    Akash's avatar Group Akash
    1 yearEdited

    It May Be Fate


    “Wh’t are ya worried fo’? If ya don’t want it, I’ll do it.”

    Emmanuel was a lot more civilised working at the coffee chain than on the football pitch or in our room; this job paid for his lavish parties and his long list of vices. He couldn’t afford to let this go.

    “Something was off, the way he offered me that job. It was sinister – I could feel it.”

    “Life hasn’t been fair to ya for so long. Now that th’ Lord is giving you what ya want. Accept his gift.”

    I’ve never believed life was unfair to me but I could see why Emmanuel felt it. He had moved to this country when he was an adolescent, just starting to develop his own identity. His father, in the twilight of his footballing career thought it was the right move for him to move to a developing footballing nation to stretch his days as a professional. The decision turned out to be fruitful; a dozen starts and double the goals later, there was talk of him moving back to Europe, albeit Eastern Europe, within the year.

    Just before the final day of the season, Emmanuel lost his parents in a car crash. He was now a state ward in a state that wasn’t in a position to care for him.

    It was then that I gave up on the thought that the offer from the pawnbroker meant anything more than that. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time; I shouldn't questioning things working out for me. Life had decided it was being kind to me, if I didn't take this chance, someone else would.

    “It’s fate, brother. It's your time.”

    It’s as if the man realized I’d come to a decision. He'd come to read my expressions far too well and knew everything about me, while I still struggled to get a glimpse into his life.

    -

    The Knights weren’t half bad. To be fair, I’d been training kids for so long, I would be impressed merely by the lack of crying on the ground. However, a couple of the players had some real talent; like the old man said – no Ronaldos or Messis – but a good bunch of young men.

    I’d scouted some of potential opposition in the off-time, visiting public grounds and local teams training sessions. Not needing to spend my afternoons waiting at the pawnbroker’s shop, reading books about crows, had its benefits. Some teams were great overall – cohesive and strong, others would probably lose against my Under-8 team – if the latter had a bad day; but there was no doubt the Government’s push towards having participation in the World Cup in 30 years had seen a rise in the offtake of the game throughout the city.

    The team didn't seem too excited about having me around as their coach. So far, they were content mimicking training they picked up off of the FIFA game they were all hooked to, and saw no benefit in having someone order them around on the field.

    We played an 8-on-8 with a focus on defending in numbers.

    During this first serious training drill, I noticed none of the players knew what positioning was or how it helped their game. At any given time, at the very least, four Knights would run after the ball and the player with it. Of course, this enthusiasm would disappear the moment their own team had the ball.

    An hour of tiring off-the-ball running and defensive positioning later, I felt at ease in my new role. They hadn't accepted me as their new coach yet, I wasn't expecting them to, but they were warming up to the idea. I wasn't getting glares from the corner of their eyes anymore.

    The boys needed me but more importantly, I needed them. I had forgotten why I had left my family and home for, when I busy trying to make ends’ meet. A few hundred hours more, and this team might just be ready for their season, and I would have enough hours as a coach to eligible for my first badge.
    Just caught up on this. Fantastic read and very enjoyable. Looking forward to what is to come.

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