Football used to be one of the common topics that I would talk about on this blog years ago, and some of my most popular blog posts are actually football-based topics, such as the football boots.
But in recent years I've been stopped playing the game drastically ever since coming over to Japan. Mainly because there aren't any much play-for-free fields and most importantly, lack of mates to play together. Even if there is, have to travel quite some distance just for a game, which cost quite a bit over here. That's why I've approached to single player cycling, or once in awhile table tennis with friend visiting.
If you're not familiar with it, futsal is the game of football played in a much smaller field on artificial turf instead of grass, and usually each teams consist of 5 members instead of full 11.
Due to the differences compared to the normal 100 yards grass field, the game play of futsal differs a lot as well. For instance, in futsal short passes and agile game is common whereas on the big field it's dominated with inconsistent paces and wider space to roam. I for one, find futsal least attractive coming from the big field, but then nowadays a grass field to roam freely has become a "luxury" commodity in the city, so adapt to futsal would be a wiser choice to keep on playing the game.
Current futsal shoe, Nike CTR360 Maestri, replacing the aged Adidas Predator Absolute.
So, the only time that I'd touch a football nowadays would be during MSAJ's annual sports festival, and futsal is one of the main agenda. The last time I played futsal was at the same event last year, therefore the title, "Futsal, once a year".
This time, we were more well-prepared. We have enough players all in good spirits, have our team name changed from "Joker" to "One Lucky Shoot FC" lol. Before the game start we practised together for a bit, and then came the awkward situation when they assumed that I'm the goal keeper.
Well, I would prefer to play at most positions but GK, although I used to play on that position. Eventually we've decided to rotate between players to take on the GK spot.
So for the first game, we went against team Yamanashi. Being the first match of the tournament, things started off slowly but unfortunately we were on the lossing side. The scoreline was 1-2. Couldn't really remember the first goal much, but the opponent's 2nd goal was sort of due to GK's mistake. By that time I was still on the bench waited to be sub-on. When I finally went onto the field, the game was pretty much set.
Our team regrouped before the next match, discussing strategy. Finally I gave in and took up the GK's position. That, I thought, was one of the best decisions of the day heh.
The 2nd match against team Gunma, our attacking side finally worked out the chemistry well and managed to blast 3 pass the opposition's goal. As for the other side, I had a few blocks initially but thanks to fellow teammates keep on pressing on, in the later half our side was quite silent. The game ended 3-0 for us, which was great.
Gaining the confidence from the win, we took on the final team from the group stage, Petropan which I knew most of their players. But in the game, friends or not, as long as you're the opponent you'd be crossed.
I started as the GK again, feeling confident again with the old position. But it was the opponent's team who got the first goal. Another scramble shot out of nowhere. While direct shots are easier to handle, my weak point is the ball bouncing in out of sudden and left me stoned. Reflex is getting numb, not as sharp as the earlier days.
But anyway, the Petropan's game was an interesting one. Before the end of first half we managed to make it 1-1. On the second half I switched on to be the striker while handling the GK post to fellow teammate. While I prefer to play in midfield, but sometimes I'd like to concentrate just on the attacks.
Amusingly, the wind blew along our side, and by luck, the opposition gave away 2 own goals. Scrambling ball deflected off their players and unfortunately the ball just went into the wrong direction for them. End of the game, 3-1. Though I must admit, I didn't fared well playing on the field compared to guarding between the posts.
Compared to last year's result, we didn't won any games back then but this time to win twice and lose once was considered pretty good result for us. Therefore we were drawn into the top tier knock-out stage, against the notorious Niigita team.
They were the better team compared to the previous teams from the group stage. I resumed my position as the last line of defense, watching the teams engaging in front of me. But I could sensed that our team's attacking couldn't penetrate deep into the opponent's defense. Well, we discussed that we should be playing more defensively as the opponent team is known for their attacking moves. Alas, the first goal went to them from another of my weak spot, scrambling goal.
We tried to pressed on and when the 2nd half is closing up, the opponent managed to break through and scored via a counter-attack. The score ended 0-2. Game over.
But the lads weren't upset, we had good games and were happy with it. I for one, relieved that I finally I made peace with the position I like and dislike. No matter what position on the field, it's equally important as if one of them fail, the chances of being devoured by the opponent is quite big huh.
Well the above account is written based from my own perspective, but remembering that football is not an individual game, kudos to my fellow teammates that together we worked out great games.
But futsal itself isn't the only story of the day. One of the teams registered earlier had pulled out during the last minute, leaving a gap in the groups. At first we thought of forfeiting it, but here comes a bunch of Japanese men joined in and filled in the blank. The futsal tournament is open for Malaysians only and that makes a little awkward.
Later I had the chance to speak with them, only to found out that they were actually off-duty policeman being asked by their boss to come over and spread some advices during emergency. It was quite fun to chat with them casually, because one would hardly speak to the police in such way eh? They seemed to be interested with Malaysia, one of their member went to Borneo for honeymoon. We chatted about cultures, languages and most importantly, food heh.
The reason why we managed to clicked on is because they were the police of Saitama prefecture where I'm staying right now. They knew about my university, and advised me to be extremely careful when cycling as Kawagoe near where I'm staying is one of the most dangerous city in Saitama, where traffic accidents happened very often.
Another interesting episode is something to do with the food we had last night. This morning I was being asked by another friend whether I ran to the toilet. Apparently there're cases of food poisoning caused by the bento we catered from an Indian restaurant. Luckily for me it wasn't that bad but surely it is not amusing waking up early in Sunday morning because of stomach upset lol.
Still not sure whether will still be playing for next year's tournament or not, though. :)
P/S: I doubt anyone but myself would read through all these long lines hahah...