Football focus

He jinks inside, drops a shoulder. Beats one. Beats two. The goal opens up in front of him and he steadies himself for the shot. The glory is his. He eyes the keeper, daring him to guess, daring him to commit, one way or the other. He draws back his right leg…

…and shanks the ball somewhere over the fence into the blackness beyond.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get it” he shouts and heads off into the darkness in search of the ball. Such is the mixed fortunes of the 5-a-side footballer. Certainly the way I play the game. From the sublime to the ridiculous in one dash down the pitch.

My weekly 5-a-side game has been the constant over the last few years. As I started on this quest, I reflected on how I had slowly whittled down my activity to just one game of 5-a-side a week. Whilst I am very glad that I have been able to add to this with the running, swimming, cycling and (I’m as surprised as you are) the pilates and the planks, I have always had the football as a core, weekly activity.

So in a way, it’s a little surprising that I haven’t written about it before. But then, the standard doesn’t really warrant in-depth analysis. The games are normally so high-scoring that I can’t actually remember the result by the time I’ve driven home. 13-12? 15-10? Who knows? But it’s still great. I run around, I get hot and sweaty and, very occasionally, I slot home a 20-yard screamer.

Do you know what the best thing is? As I have increased my exercise levels and improved my fitness, so I have noticed a corresponding improvement in my stamina on the football pitch. I can now dart back and forth, up and down, left and right with far greater ease than I could before. If you slot a hopeful pass between the defenders, I should now be able to reach it. And when I reach it, what do I do with it? Well, that’s anyone’s guess.

But you can’t have everything now can you?