Satish Shrestha (सतिश श्रेष्ठ )

In The Quest Of…

Soccer memoir

Posted by Satish Shrestha on September 19, 2009

Though not a good player, I have always loved playing and watching soccer games. I played soccer after ages last night at Mulligan Field with a bunch of friends. It was fun but since I had imbibed a bottle of beer earlier, I had hard time breathing as I ran. So I could not run along with the ball. When I went home after finishing the game, I went through a series of flashback- mostly related to soccer. Since I was rather exhausted last night, I didn’t feel like typing. Now I am typing everything I can remember. This is my attempt to recollect some of those semi-great experiences (to me).

Soccer is probably one of the cheapest thence affordable sports. All one needs is a spherical kickable object. Here, I am not saying one needs a ‘soccer ball’ because that’s not what we played with when I was a kid. We used to kick around inedible grapefruits, empty water bottles, and sometimes even inedible oranges. Anything spherical kickable object was good enough for us to derive the joy of playing soccer. As I grew up, I started tagging along with my older brothers to play with a real soccer ball. Since I was very small and much younger than them, they would not include me in their teams, but still I followed them for quite a while. It was not until in 1998 that I had my own group of friends to play soccer with. World Cup ’98 brought an upheaval in my and my friends’ lives. Fortunately, the national tv station broadcasted most of the games. We were in sixth grade and we were grown enough to understand and realize the beauty of soccer. One of my friends had a real soccer ball by then. However, the neighborhood I grew up was quite congested. And since we had to spend 7 hours in the school at that time, we didn’t get to play everyday. We used to wait for fridays since we used to get half day off. 15 minutes away from the neighborhood was the biggest open field, Tundikhel, in Kathmandu. Because it was the largest open field in the congested city, numerous people of all age groups went there to play mostly soccer and cricket. Since we were bunch of young kids, a tiny part of the field used to be enough for us. Around ten of us would walk there right after school without even changing our uniforms. Ronaldo, Batistuta, Ortega, Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Michael Owen were the biggest names amongst us. We tried to emulate their skills, though too poorly. Apart from playing, we also betted on good matches. We were sixth graders, so what could we bet for? Usually for couple of rupees !

It was june, one of the hottest months in Kathmandu. Regardless of the temperature, we played almost every Fridays and Saturdays. My parents were not happy with me since they were always too worried about my left leg that I fractured three times, of which two were pretty bad and I had to have plasters on. However, I was a brat. We carried on our tradition of playing soccer on Fridays and Saturday for rest of the year until World Cup cricket began in 1999. Then we switched to cricket and ignored soccer. However, we had an epic soccer match in 1999, the beginning of eight grade.

The boys in our class were caught by football fever yet again all of a sudden. Tundikhel still was our hotspot. This incident is rather gross, but I feel like sharing it anyway. Boys from both sections decided to play a match and each interested individual had to pay 5 rupees to sign in. The deal was that the winning team would get all the accumulated money. So each section constructed its own team and we headed to Tundikhel. I was the goal keeper of our team. I do not remember who my team mates were; neither do I remember our opponents on that particular match. But I do remember the referee of the match. With whistle in his mouth and black pair of shorts, he looked almost like a professional referee. I also remember Naresh, another brat of our class, being the defender of our team for the first half of the match. Before the game began, he had his urinary bladder full. So he had to let it out. A big problem in Tundikhel was that the public restroom was too far from there. So instead of running all the way to the public restroom, Naresh managed to let it out in a far corner of our ground (consider a small portion of tundikhel where we played our match as our ground) without letting anyone know. He came back to the team and we started the game. As the game began and started taking its pace, the game took an interesting turn. But I am not talking about the game in here. The funniest part of the game happened when the referee slipped really bad. Naresh started laughing out loud. Now guess what exactly had happened that made Naresh burst with laughter.

Tundikhel- the largest open field in Kathmandu

Tundikhel- the largest open field in Kathmandu


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