‘Well, we played terribly, but won anyway.’ That’s basically how you can summarize the last few weeks at Moldavo’s second team. After every game we were disappointed in how we played, but the scoresheet read results like 5-0, 7-2 and 6-1. That’s why, two weeks ago, I said at practice ‘You know what they say about teams that play bad and win anyway… Those are usually the teams that are on top of the table at the end of the season!’ Ironic laughter was the response I got from my teammates. ‘Take it easy, Emma. First we have to beat Heist, and then we’ll talk.’ Last weekend we played the game against KSK Heist, the number 2 in the league standings. It became a game that I won’t forget for quite a while.
Mandatory detours and eight stops for coffee
As oppposed to away games with Moldavo’s first team, where you take a team bus, everyone drives themselves when it comes to the second team. I’ve never minded that. GPS system on, some nice music and coffee stops at every single gas station on the way there. The journey from Son to KSK Heist was gonna take me at least an hour and twenty minutes, and that was without the mandatory 20 mile detour because my GPS system is from 2006 and sends me on a road that no longer exists at least once every trip. But anyway, since the game started at 9:30 in the morning, it was as early as a quarter to seven when I stood next to my car, and tried not to wake my neighbours as I threw my soccer bag onto the passenger’s seat. Outside it was cold and foggy. I smiled. For some people, it has to be hard to imagine I do this for fun.
When I arrived at Heist I felt good (and by this time awake from all that coffee), but still a little nervous. If we won this game, we’d create a seven-point gap between us and them, and it would make it extremely difficult for the other teams to catch up with us during the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, we quickly found out that our opponent’s first team, that plays in the Belgium Superleague, didn’t have a game this weekend, and you can sort of understand what that means. Since I understand this is how it works in soccer and every team that has the opportunity would take it, I won’t point my finger at anyone here. But you can understand that the attackerI was facing during this game was a little bit tougher than the ones I usually play in the provincial Belgian leagues.
It quickly turned out that I wasn’t the only one with some healthy nerves. ‘Does anyone need to use the toilet? If so, I’d do it now, because afterwards I’m seriously gonna have a stress poop‘, an unnamed teammate said in the dressing room. Oh, and just as you think you’ve seen everything when it comes to soccer facilities: at KSK Heist, the showers weren’t attached to the dressing rooms, but at the other side of the hallway behind a door, which means that in order to shower, you had to cross that hallway, naked…
Enfin, the game. We started extremely sloppy, and within two minutes we were 1-0 down. Okay, it was clear: we were facing a very strong opponent today. We knew that now, so time to work on our own game plan. But about ten minutes later I did what I have done so many times before, and always with the same results. I launched a flying tackle within our box, missed the ball completely and shoveled the attacker onto the grass. Penalty. Soccer is a team sport, and the price for my dumb mistake now had to be paid by my teammates, the coaches and the supporters.
2-0 down we went into halftime, but when we came out of the dressing rooms for the second half we were fired up and ready to go. Heist had completely lost their hold on the game, and it wasn’t long before the 2-1 fell. In the remaining minutes of the game we were clearly dominant, but failed to score another goal. When the referee blew his whistle for the last time, we knew that Heist was now 1 point behind us in the standings. I fell to the pitch, and pulled my shirt over my head. Come on, Emma. Don’t cry. Not again.
‘Just’ the league and the cup
Of course, some tears fell during the long car ride home, but quickly I realised what had happened today. Okay, I had made a huge mistake and partly due to that, we lost the game. But I couldn’t believe how proud I was of the team. One time, I wrote that playing for the second team at any other given club could feel like a punishment, but at Moldavo it feels like a blessing. Everyone had worked their asses off from start to finish, fought for every single ball, and on top of that I got to defend a Superleague-attacker for almost 90 minutes. It’s no secret that I want to reach higher in soccer than the 1st Provincial League of Antwerp. But until I’m ready for that step, I’m at the very best place I could wish for. If I try my hardest every single week to contribute to Moldavo B, all that other stuff will follow. Now all that’s left to do is ‘just’ winning the league and the cup…
Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂