What stupid looks like in Thailand.

Coach (excitedly): “Come on lads, this is the last training exercise, I promise. It’s just a dangerous cave complex, nothing could possibly go wrong.”

Child 1 (apprehensively): “But coach, I don’t really like caves, they’re dark and spooky and we don’t have even the simplest of basic safety equipment.”

Coach (dismissively): “Oh don’t worry about that, I’m sure that being a football coach makes me perfectly well qualified to guide a group of children deep into an underground cave system that everybody knows gets flooded by monsoon rains about this time of year.”

Child 2 (cautiously): “Er, I’m not so sure sir. And besides won’t it be quite chilly down there, I’m only wearing a cheap, rip-off Messi football strip and a pair of flip flops.”

Coach (patronisingly): “That’ll be fine m’boy, I always say it’s best to keep it simple when you’ve made the highly dubious decision to take a group of children in your care exploring a series of increasingly treacherous caves, sinking hundreds of metres below the surface and several kilometres from safety should anything go wrong. Not that it will, why would it, ha-ha.”

Child 2 (semi-defiantly): “Well if you say so coach, although how this forms part of our training somewhat escapes me and my almost carefree young chums. Wouldn’t it be better if we just went home and watched The World Cup. After all this competition only happens every four years and is widely regarded as an inspiration to millions of aspiring young football fans around the globe. And remember we are just young footballers, not cave divers”

Coach (confidently, yet sensing a hint of resistance and a worrying air of self preservation growing in the group): “I see what you’re saying there sonny but surely you have to admit that clambering around in wet, dark caves is pretty much the same thing as playing football. OK so this isn’t so much a game of two halves and nor is it technically all about who scores the most goals but right now don’t you feel that surge of energy, a quickening of the pulse, the soft young hairs on the back of your neck prickle with excitement in just the same way as when your team mate drifts a ball up from midfield and you volley it into the back of the net from 18 yards?”

Child 3 (hesitantly):”Er, no, not really.”

Coach (bullshittingly): “Well just trust me lad, the feeling will come. Some say you’re not really a man until you’ve scored in a World Cup final but my dad always used to tell me that you’ve not really lived until you’ve wandered stupidly into a staggeringly problematic sequence of caves and then returned safely and gone home without any intervening incident or drama.”

Child 1 (questioningly): “Really! That’s what your dad used to say?”

Coach (impatiently: “More or less, yes. Anyway that doesn’t matter right now, come on let’s C-A-V-E!”

Child 2 (disrespectfully): “How did your dad die?”

Coach (angry coach-ily): “Never you mind (you little shit), stop being so disrespectful.”

Child 3 (I-give-up-ingly) “Oh OK sir, we’ll be able to get a signal on our mobiles won’t we, in case there’s a problem?”

Coach (stupidly): “Of course, yes, well, yes, the signal should be pretty strong in this part of the countryside and we’ll make sure we only go a few hundred metres below the surface of the earth. And we won’t go too far in, maybe just four kilometres or so. Besides, there’s probably loads of people down there anyway. It’s win-win all round. Oooh look, might get a bit a rain later so better in than out.”

Child 2 (exceedingly hopefully and therefore also quite sadly): “And then can we all go and watch The World Cup?”

Coach (foolishly, very foolishly): “Yes. Then we can all go and watch The World Cup.”


G B Hewitt. 08.07.2018


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