“So, what do you think I am doing here all the time, eh?”
“Coaching us, trainer.”
“Yes.Coaching you. And what is the job of a coach? …. Well?”
Alec looked into the faces of his football team, sitting around him and his chalkboard in awkward silence. Then Jim Anderson, goalkeeper, dared to answer, “To help us play better football.”
“Yep. To help all of you play better football. Now and in future.” He paused and fixated Harry Ducks, his centre forward. “And I’m damn disappointed. Losing 1:8 to the Skydiver team, what a shame!”
He paused again, his gaze now wandering from player to player, before returning to his goal-getter.
“And especially you, Harry, should have remembered some of our training lessons. Naming but a few: receiving drills, start without the ball and positional play, for Heaven’s sake.”
Harry dropped his gaze, knowing too well he had failed miserably. Scored not one goal. Incomprehensible. Inexcusable.
“And you, Paul,” Alec continued, now gazing at Foster, number 5 in the team and midfielder. “Did you think the others were sleeping? What was it in the 57th minute, why didn’t you kick the ball to Rafe?”
Foster lifted his eyebrows. “C’mon, Alec. Okay, it was my fault, but you’re well aware I came straight from duty. Straker bottled me and Ford up until fourteen hundred and we really had to hurry to …”
“Rubbish,” Alec cut him short. “No excuses. And, as to Keith …” The mentioned communications officer of SHADO, left attacker of team ‘Headquarters’, ducked his head. He knew what was to come.
“You turned in your worst performance since the game versus ‘Moonbase’ two years ago.”
Ouch! That was not fair. Two years ago, when he missed two penalties, he still suffered from the flu epidemic which brought half of headquarters to their knees. But Keith was not in the mood for discussion. Not now, after the second heavy loss. So he only hunched his shoulders, remaining silent, and continued staring at this folded hands.
Alec waited a few seconds. “Nothing to say? Fine. And the others …” Searching for his cigarettes in his jacket, he walked to the desk and sat down on it. He took a deep drag and blew the smoke out, eyeing the members of his team.
“Okay. No use crying over spilt milk. Let’s look to the next match in a fortnight. Team ‘Naval Suppliers’ is waiting for us. A formidable opponent.”
He arose and took the chalk. “We must change some player roles. Shaun, you’ll be the play maker, change with Paul. Paul, you’re right defender then. Keith, you….”
Minutes later the board was covered with names, arrows and tactical advices. Alec put the chalk aside and looked into the faces of his men. He grinned. Yes, football was his passion. Had ever been and would ever be.
NOTE: Written to one of DRAGON's series of prompts ("Alec coaches a soccer team"), restriction: not more than 500 words. Can also be found on The Shado Archive under www.shadoarchive.com.