December 24th, just after six in the evening. The most important night of the year. A few more birthdays will have to pass before your find out the truth behind this national holiday; that the presents actually had been hidden up in the attic since a few weeks prior, and that the bearded man that visited you was really the neighbour with a pillow under his shirt. Melancholic you will look back on this evening, where your heartrate is closing in on the 160-mark and you check the clock every fifteen seconds. Today, however, you have a few more glorious moments left in this illusion, and it’s amazing. December 24th is the most wonderful night of the year.
The 9th of July, almost eight in the morning. I have found out the painful truth about Christmas, but the feeling is the same. In two days, the new soccer season starts. And it takes all the effort in the world not to check the clock every fifteen seconds.
Training, training, training
In the summer break after the last season I spent weeks training on my own. With a ball and a set of cones I crawled under the broken fence at my old club and was there two, three hours a day, kicking a ball against a wall, juggling and practicing my free kicks. The result of that was definitely an improvement in my technical skills, but also uninterrupted training from September of 2014 until May earlier this year. And that is something that I felt.
This past summer there has been a time where I couldn’t hear the word ‘soccer’. Like I had suddenly become allergic to it. When it was on TV I quickly changed channels, when someone started a discussion about offside I immediately brought up another subject and all my soccer attributes were stuffed away in the back of my closet. I kept doing the training that was neccessary not to lose too much stamina, but it was at a bare minimum. It lacked the drive, the 100% commitment and the insane intensity that you need when you are training for a goal that is hard to reach. I was having a ‘soccer-burn-out’, basically.
Too much of a good thing
You know what they say: you can get too much of a good thing. No one should train twelve months a year without any kind of physical and mental break. Sooner or later you will pay the price for that. And that is something that I learned the hard way these last two months. But suddenly, a week or two ago, I started feeling a longing. You may know, dear reader, that I have not always been doing so well lately. I can paint a wonderful picture on social media about being happy that I’m gonna start college in September, a new job that I really enjoy and translating a Swedish book that I came to fall in love with. But the truth is, we all have our tough days, and recently I’ve just had a couple more of those than I usually do.
What I miss at a moment like that is the scent of grass. The sound of a yelling coach by the sideline. The feeling of a successful slide tackle. The sight of stands packed with people, or even the one with just three, of which one of them is my dad. I miss the car ride to Belgium, through the towns of Eersel and Postel, and I even miss lamenting late at night at home about how poorly I played that day. Two days left.
It’s December 24th. Someone just knocked on the door really loudly and my heartrate shoots up even more. I’m not exactly sure what is about to happen, but all my senses are in a heightened state of awareness and I can barely contain my excitement. This is going to be the most wonderful night of the year.
Thanks for reading, talk soon! 🙂