Village Boy: A Journey

Village Boy: A Journey

Adrenaline rushed through my body as I aimed a bicycle kick into the goal post. The ball soared through the air, and flew straight into the goal post. “Beep!” sounded the referee’s whistle, which signaled the end of the soccer match. A roar emerged from the crowd stand, as the Vietnam supporters screamed their hearts out. Photographers started taking photos crazily. I could not believe it. I had actually broken the tiebreaker and scored Vietnam a spot in the finals of the Commonwealth Games! I was literally on cloud nine as my buddies ran over like wild horses to hug and congratulate me. They heaved me up on their shoulders as they galloped round the field, much to our supporters’ delight.

In the locker room, my team mates were still chatting about the soccer match like a bunch of excited little kids. Their discussion was immediately stopped as our soccer coach walked in, with a wide smile on his tanned face. “All of you did your very best, especially Baet Niam, so I will treat all of you to dinner!” my cheery coach announced. We erupted in hoots and cheers, and everyone clamored to change first. I gave a tired smile to my coach, who went out of the room. I picked up a clean towel and wiped my forehead, which was covered in grime and sweat. I stared at the dirty towel. It reminded me of the hard work that I had put in to join the Vietnam national soccer team. My mind whizzed back to the day that changed my life…

It was a normal day. I woke up at the crack of dawn. After splashing my sleepy face with cool water, I donned on boots and got ready to start work for the day. I sloshed into the wet and muddy paddy field and begun planting young rice seedlings into the ground. This went on till early afternoon, where I ate my lunch and attended school in the village. I loved school. My favorite subject was English, as I felt that it was a beautiful language. On this fateful day, our teacher introduced our class to the coach of the national soccer team of Vietnam. He led boys who were representing the under-21 national soccer team that was around my age to do community service in my village. The coach announced that they were going to teach us soccer. My heart skipped a beat as soccer was in my blood since a young age, since my neighbour taught me a few soccer stunts on his ball.

The coach then proceeded to show us some soccer tricks which I paid huge attention to. Thereafter, he distributed out soccer balls to everyone to practice. Soon after, the coach realized that I had some potential in soccer. That’s when he asked me, “Would you like to join our team? I’m sure with more training; you could be a soccer player someday.” My mouth went agape. Is this for real? “Y…y…yes sir, it had always been a dream for me to be a soccer player…” I stammered. That was the best day of my life. That golden question looped in my mind over and over again. A few weeks later, after all the arrangements made by my coach and my parents, and all the teary goodbyes, I was set to leave my village and enter the bustling city of Vietnam, Hanoi.

It was a cultural shock in Hanoi. All the noises and others kept me awake in my hostel till early hours which lasted for a few weeks. Luckily, my fellow team mates and coach helped me settle into the environment and also the training regimen. I did not expect such rigorous training, and at times, I wondered whether I made the right choice as I am not officially part of the group yet. However, my buddies supported me all the way and we were a tightly knitted group. After hard work for a year or so, on a sunny day, my coach came up to me. “After all the hard work, I’m sure you will be asking me whether you can make it to the team. My answer…” he paused, “Congrats. You are one of us now.”

I cried. This was the moment that I had waited for.

Poke. I jolt out of my thoughts. “Bro, do you want to eat? I’m hungry…” I hurriedly went to change and joined the chorus of laughter as we left for dinner.

Word count: 749

Essay by: Boh Duang Sey, Singapore

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