Sevens

It’s rare for me to finish a game of football and be fully happy with my performance. I am not really a perfectionist, you understand, but it’s that I have a real lack of footballing ability and I always aim for being better than I can achieve. I just am not very good at playing football. I’d say I’m in the middle – kinda okay, but lack some really basic skills. There are things I am good at, but simple things I just don’t know how to do knock my game back. Things I am good at are tackling, marking, passing and movement, but lack a first touch, finishing, speed and individual skills. These are the reasons why at five a sides, I normally have a slightly below par game, rarely getting on the long score sheet and making a few (okay, a lot) horror touches.

Fives is touch and pass and people who play with us that don’t do this rarely run wild. Taking shots from the other half is all fine and well, but it lacks any real understanding of five a side – it’s not the same as a full game and you need to play differently. I struggle with the quick passing as a defender, and struggle with the quick break away passes because of my touch, but at the weekend I played in a seven aside tournament, and felt more in my element.

I wouldn’t say I played great, because I didn’t. At the beginning we were asked where we played – being one of the few left footed players I went on the left, and also volunteered for left back. I like being back, covering forwards, passing to the midfield, and tracking forward every so often if there was space and the interesting thing was that the rest of the team seemed to work pretty well with this arrangement too. In front of me was Steven, the left winger who I traded passes with a few times and covered runs for. My right and centre back colleagues were as committed to me, two of us covering corners. We won the first game comfortably and could’ve won the second game if we had had a break rather than playing straight after the first game. It felt good.

The space offered by a bigger pitch, the slower pace, the greater movement from the team and the feeling that there was a role for you seemed to make it so much easier to play. I felt like I could launch a pass ahead to Steve or Richard, into the middle to Rafik or Connor, and maybe even pass it across the back to Stuart and it felt more natural than I had thought it would. The larger pitch meant a bit of a sprint back if we lost possession and I had committed forward, but that part of the game, unlike Fives where you have to be everywhere all the time. I could stay back for a bit of a breather and feel like I was still contributing. A few good passes here and there, and some good one twos and I felt like I was doing a good job.

Qualifying top from our group in the first round felt great, but meant we would be up against it in the second round, having being drawn as a top seed. We were drawn against the Fire Brigade who had a pace about them that reminded me of a team who had patience. If there wasn’t a gap they’d pass it around at the back, allowing the players time to find space to move it to, to find the room and then play it through. They ended up drawing against the other team in our group, Genesis Oil and Gas, who played us off the park in our game ending our unbeaten run with a 3 nil victory. We were dispirited because the organisation we had in the first round suddenly had vanished. The game against the fire brigade might’ve been our best game, as we were going forward, passing well, had a bit of imagination, but at the back we were weak. The goalkeeper Stuart wanted a run about, so Ricky pulled into the goals, and left me without my left side position, having to slip into the right hand midfield role. I felt okay about it, and showed for the ball and played some good passes, but I still needed to run back and the role was a bit above my ability. We scored three times, each bringing it back close, but our defence, stretched everytime we went forward, shipped seven goals. This meant we ended up bottom of the second group and into the 5th and 6th place play off, which we won by default after the other team left instead of playing us.

It actually was really good fun, and whilst knocked me for six (and I picked up Knee-gah from a clumsy falling over the ball in the second game) I still feel pretty proud of my performance and proves that I might actually be suited more to a bigger game, with less on the ball offensive responsibility and more off the ball tracking and marking, with defensive distribution being more akin to my skill set. I don’t have the pace to be a left wing back.

The thing I need to take from the game is that I do have the skill and patience to play more than just passably, and need to bring that to my five a side game.

In any case it was a good cause, and as such I implore you to donate generously to the DEC appeal for Haiti. http://www.dec.org.uk/