CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
Monday May 27, 2013 Zagreb, Croatia
Some might call it Blue Monday after witnessing another dismal performance on the football field by our team, but when you put the entire situation into perspective it’s anything but. Yes we lost and this time it was especially hard to watch as we came from a 0-12 hole to lead 15-12 only to quickly lose that hard earned lead with poor kickoff containment and a four play drive by our opponents that put us behind again 19-15. And the topper was a first and goal on the one yard line with three minutes left in the game that turned into a fourth and twenty dropped end zone pass. Ouch.
This football team obviously isn’t very good and the reasons begin with not enough good players and includes poor practice attendance, that leads to not understanding the game plan and to a less than acceptable ‘feel for the game’. We suited up twenty five players, a few of whom I haven’t seen since our last game two weeks ago. Our best athlete left the game in the first quarter after fumbling our opponents punt and didn’t return. Our best linebacker was thrown out of the game in the second quarter for unsportsmanlike behavior. And a young seventeen year old kid, WR/DB who was our best player on this game day, left with an injured shoulder midway through the fourth quarter. All excuses which those that lose see as major factors and those that win tend to call, well… ‘excuses’.
I’ve told you these are good kids and they are and I need to remind myself that its just a game but it’s still frustrating. I hate to lose, actually I don’t mind losing, I can live with it, when the other team is obviously better and we give our all. But, it’s becoming a habit which doesn’t put me in a very good mood. Yet here I am in a beautiful country teaching a bunch of young men ‘life lessons’ through the game of football just as I’ve done in America for forty eight years. I’m pretty close to the end of this coaching career , fifty sounds pretty good to me, but I don’t want to go out feeling like I’m simply holding on to a sinking ship. We’ve got two unwinable games left in our season and we’ll just keep trying to get better. I look at it as an opportunity to build a bit more character, simple as that.
Following are some pictures that should tell you something about football here in Croatia and about our group of players. I can’t imagine in a hundred years what our kids back in America would say if I asked them to…..well, see for yourself.
The crew lining the field.
and putting up the goal posts.
every movie needs a ‘director’
and someone to remove standing water.
the locker room.
and the yard markers.
spectators rolling their own…..something. I didn’t ask.
Black Vs Blue
Our next game is June 9 Vs Moribor from Slovenia. We’ll give our guys this week off, mainly to mentally regroup. That will give us a full week and four practices before heading across the soon to be eliminated border between Croatia and Slovenia. As of the first of July Croatia will officially become a member of the European Union (EU) and they’ll take down the fence, eliminate the passport checks and act like old friends crossing the Columbia river between Oregon and Washington.