It was the fourth time in that week that coach walked in on us arguing. On Monday, Sam, Carl and Smith had been arguing over who would referee a friendly match we had set up amongst ourselves. On Tuesday, Tony and Clark had a fistfight after Clark claimed Tony was staring at his girlfriend’s bum. On Thursday, Lucas and Kareem got into a heat exchange when Lucas broke the pad while they were playing FIFA.
He claimed the game had frustrated him But Kareem said he was mad that his ass was getting whooped. And today, two weeks before the first league game, Toby, Sam Lucas, and Tony were busy exchanging pretty sensitive insults that could have become a bigger incident if the coach hadn’t stepped in like he did every other time.
“Quadri, come here!” Coach shouted as he looked at everyone sternly before turning his back. I was glad that I hadn’t been involved in any of these altercations, but the coach had another idea;
“You lead a team that is falling apart yet you feel like you’re safe because you are not involved,” Coach responded harshly to my thought after I said it out loud. “Did you forget what I told you last season?”
“No sir,” I responded. Coach told me last year after the guys wouldn’t listen to me on the field that; “I may be your coach, but you’re the leader. I could work my ass off and still lose this position, but this is your team, and they are all under your control. Exercise your authority, or I might have to question why you wear that armband every time you step on the pitch.” The words echoed in my head as I continued. “I have a suggestion, been thinking of it for a while now.”
“Let’s hear it,” the coach said.
The idea had just come to me at that moment, but I still had to lay it out in the best possible way.
“So I believe these fights are natural (not that they are good) but I think if we get this solution right, it will make the team stronger.”
“Okay… I’m still waiting for the grand idea.”
Those words hit me hard, and the pressure was on. “ The league will be starting in two weeks so I thought that if the team could go for an airsoft outing next weekend, just for fun and of course to let the steam out.”
Oh my God, the coach doesn’t understand airsoft, how would I explain it, I thought.
“Yes sir, it is like real-life combat…” I said confidently before coach interrupted me.
“I know what airsoft is young man.” He continued; “Write the proposal and draw out a budget. Don’t let your teammates know yet though and keep an eye on them or they won’t make it to next week.”
The conversation ended better than I thought and I went home to prepare the proposal and draw out the budget as discussed. I also booked a spot for the team as the website didn’t require any deposit. The school agreed, and the date was set. I didn’t tell the team where we’d be heading to except that we would be going for a weekend vacation.
On a good day, everyone would be happy about the news, but the team seemed rather quiet. The bus was also quiet till we got to Idaho, the airsoft camp. Everyone, except coach and I, seemed curious as to what was happening there as I never revealed what exactly we were coming to do.
Everyone got settled, and we headed out after about an hour. A box was placed at the entrance of the tent, and we were asked to each pick out a paper as we came in. The paper contained three colors; Purple, Green and blue. I figured that each color represented a team. Therefore our 21 man team had been broken into 3, with seven members in each team.
We went into the woods while the coach waited in a tent which was connected to the CCTV’s connected around the arena to monitor us. The team was excited after they heard the instructions and were each handed their weapon.
PS: Unlike the professional players who had to leave the game when they get hit, we were asked to go on till we were exhausted.
We did go on till we were exhausted, but rather than work as a team, most members of each team went on their agenda to hunt down their preys which they did till they got exhausted.
At the end of the day, in our tent, everyone seemed more lively though, not back to normal but the guys had so much to talk about. Coach came in later to also gist with us without ever referencing to the prior incidents. The game had given everyone the opportunity to exhaust whatever emotion that was brewing amongst us, and we still had 2more days to go before heading back home.