Would You Mind If I Play? - Chapter 5[Updated at: 2021-01-11 03:57:15]
Chapter 5: I Love Soccer
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Zhongzhou, Middle Street, building No. 425, High School Soccer magazine headquarters.
The last few years had seen greater government support in promoting soccer for youths on a national level. It was so successful that it could be considered a revolution in itself, gaining more and more attention over the years. It received so much attention that new magazines catering only to youth soccer sprouted all over the country, and Luoyang’s High School Soccer was one of them. Being the earliest of its kind in the region, High School Soccer spearheaded the charge and quickly became the most popular sports magazine in Henan.
“Little Chen, heading out again?” said the voice of a fat, elderly man.
The young man, whose name had been called was just about to exit the office. He then turned around to answer his superior.
“Yes, chief. I just got back not too long ago, but I’m heading out again to try and get more information. With the Nationals coming soon, we don’t want to be missing out on anything now, do we?” Chen Huafeng answered.
“I really envy you, youngsters. Good job. So, where are you heading to today?” Chief Editor Liu Yang chuckled.
“Shu Guang High.”
“Huh? Where?” A person looked up over a pile of paperwork on his desk. He pushed his glasses up with a finger before continuing, “There’s nothing that you can possibly get from that school. They’ve never made it to the second round of the qualifiers every year. That school is a journalist’s dead-end!” The man speaking was Zhou Peng, the editor in charge of the magazine’s new division in Luoyang.
The chief nodded and said, “Little Chen, you’re new here, so maybe you don’t know this. Shu Guang High is no more than a supporting actor in the world of high school soccer.”
“Chief, you’re giving them too much credit! I say they’re just extras!” said Sun Liang Liang from the artwork team.
“Wow, you guys can’t be serious!”
“Nope! We’re absolutely serious!” Zhou Peng said as he shook his head.
“Let me say this,” Sun Liang Liang spoke before hitting his hand on the table, “if they make it into the second round of qualifiers this year, I’ll buy everyone here lunch!” he said it loudly in a mocking manner, and everybody else in the office looked up from their desks.
Chen Huafeng, who was rather offended by his actions, then replied, “Fine! I’ll play this game with you! If Shu Guang High gets eliminated right after the first round of qualifiers, it’ll be my treat instead!” And with that, he walked out of the office.
“Today’s training will involve trying to score while running,” Liang Ke told the team.
“Scoring?” An Ke had a bad feeling about this. “Then…” he mumbled as he looked around in search of someone.
“Don’t worry, Yang Pan is in top shape today. He’s not absent or late,” Zhang Jun said. He was standing just right next to him.
An Ke felt annoyed for being easily read and decided to humiliate Zhang Jun later during training. He would make sure that he did not score at all.
Zhang Jun once again poked at his pride by saying, “You’re afraid of Yang Pan’s shooting aren’t you?”
“Wh-who’s afraid of that? Me? You must be joking!” An Ke replied with a stutter.
“To be honest, there’s nothing shameful in admitting that you’re afraid of Yang Pan’s scoring.”
“Just watch me block his shots later!” An Ke replied angrily.
Zhang Jun did not mind An Ke’s tone. He remembered how he blocked Yang Pan’s first shot the other day. “He may just be able to pull it off,” he said to himself.
After a brief warm-up, An Ke put on his gloves and stood in front of the goal. The memory of Yang Pan’s shot kept replaying in his head as he repeatedly checked his gloves to see if they fit.
The first one up was a third-year senior, Wang Yue Hua. He was waiting for An Ke to finish fidgeting with his gloves and he grew tired of waiting. “Are you ready yet?”
“Fine! Fine!” An Ke waved as he took up his goalkeeping stance.
Liang Ke blew his whistle and Wang Yue Hua started carrying the ball. He gradually sped up as he was closing in on the goal. He changed directions and took a shot! An Ke read his movements completely and dived to the left, catching the ball with both hands before bringing it into a hug.
“Nice save!” Everyone applauded.
For the next few rounds, shots that were aimed at the goal were all denied entry. A few even missed their marks and either hit the post or went off the field. Coach Liang Ke could only shake his head and secretly sob. I’m not sure if it’s because An Ke is too good or the whole team’s just that horrible!
While this was going on, Chen Huafeng’s eyes lit up as he saw everything from under a tree not too far away. “This goalkeeper is really something! His technique and precision is not something an average high school goalkeeper can achieve. He seems to be relying on just instinct most of the time.” He took out the Shu Guang High Soccer Team Roster and marked the No.1 checkbox with a tick.
“Yang Pan!” Liang Ke called.
Hearing that name, An Ke’s heart started to beat faster and Zhang Jun wore an anticipating look on his face. “Will he be able to block him this time?”
Yang Pan had his usual habit of carrying the ball further away from the goal. Only this time, he stopped at 35 m away. Liang Ke blew his whistle and Yang Pan started carrying the ball. He stopped just after a few steps and flicked the ball upwards with the tip of his boot. He then kicked the ball when it was still up in the air!
The ball flew high and far, however it curved as it came down towards the goal like a comet, leaving a visible trail as it shot through the air. An Ke jumped at the ball with all his strength, and with both hands stretched forward, he tried to intercept the ball. But, the ball completely missed his gloves and hit the side post before bouncing into the net.
*Dong, dong, dong*
The whole post was still shaking when An Ke sat himself up and looked at it. But, the one who had the biggest shock was Chen Huafeng. His mouth was wide open and it took him almost a few minutes or so to realize what had happened. “Was this really shot by a high school student? That speed, power, or angle is hard even for a lot of professional players!” He was very glad he came to Shu Guang High that day.
The team erupted in awe. “Nice shot!”
“What a beast!”
Zhang Jun stepped up to the ball and winked at An Ke. “I’m sorry for having to humiliate you again!”
An Ke gave him the middle finger and said, “Bring it on! I’m not afraid of you!”
As soon as Liang Ke blew his whistle, Zhang Jun carried the ball from the edge of the penalty box towards the goal. However, he did not choose to shoot even though he was in range and An Ke instinctively knew that he planned to shoot the ball only when he was very sure that he could score.
Just as Zhang Jun was closing in on An Ke, his left shoulder dipped a little, making it look as if he was going to shoot the ball to the left. An Ke reacted by diving to his left to block the shot, but he was surprised to see the ball flying into the goal from his right. Zhang Jun’s amazing footwork had sent the ball to the right instead. He basically feinted a left using the movements of his body.
Zhang Jun’s shooting stunned Chen Huafeng as well. His ability to be so calm and composed even when he was in front of the keeper was absolutely terrifying!
“Ren Yu De!”
Ren Yu De started from the corner of the penalty box and kept moving to the left. He did not close in towards the goal like everybody else did, but brought the ball all the way towards the left corner of the field. Everybody was puzzled by what was going on, including An Ke. “Hold up! This is shooting practice, not crossing!”
“No, wait! He’s going to shoot from a small angle!” Yang Pan exclaimed.
Ren Yu De was doing exactly as Yang Pan said. He kicked the ball from a side angle that was really narrow, aiming for the far corner of the goal. An Ke tried his hardest to save it, but he could not even touch the ball. It entered the goal exactly at the corner of the post.
“That really was a tight angle!” Zhang Jun said. “Hey! What kind of crazy stunt is this? You won’t score if the angle isn’t small enough?”
The whole team became loud with excitement once again, but the happiest person present was perhaps Coach Liang Ke. This training session had proven that he was not wrong: These few players had what it took to become the top 10 players in the whole of Luoyang! Liang Ke’s ideal team was finally taking form.
Chen Huafeng left the school grounds with a huge scoop. The four players, whom he just saw left a very deep impression on him. His journalistic gut told him that these four were about to become very well known throughout the whole country soon.
After the training, Liang Ke made an announcement about a friendly practice match. This news was a shocker for the team, especially the seniors. The team never made it past the first round of the qualifiers, thus no other schools were willing to have practice matches with them. They were considered too weak even for training. However, the coach managed to get the match through some connections: The team’s No. 10, Wang Bo had gone to Xin’an Yi High before he transferred to Shu Guang, and he had a good relationship with members of the soccer team there. So, Liang Ke had asked Wang Bo to “sue” his contacts to make the match happen.
“This Saturday afternoon, we’ll be going to Xin’an Yi High for a warm-up, practice match before the qualifiers. Getting this match was not easy, so I hope that all of you can really get something out of it. Make sure you guys are at the school gates by one this Saturday!”
The seniors on the team were very excited when they heard that they were getting a match. The freshmen did not understand why their seniors were so excited over a warm-up match. Mainly because, they had never been through the depressing years of not having any team willing to hold a match against them. The seniors only had training and more training after even more training instead of playing against other teams.
It was night time as Su Fei opened the main door of Zhang Jun’s home.
“Hi aunty, is Zhang Jun in?”
“He’s watching TV. There’s a match on and he’s been watching it since he got home, instead of doing his homework.” Zhang Jun’s mother was busy in the kitchen. Even though she was busy with her business in the day, she still cooked for the family at night. She was really the best mom anyone could find! Zhang Jun had always held the belief that his dad’s marriage to such a wonderful woman was due to good karma from his previous life.
The noise from the TV filled the living room as Su Fei popped in. She found Zhang Jun lying comfortably on the sofa and watching TV.
“Ahem!” Su Fei faked a cough.
Zhang Jun turned and was surprised to see her.
“Su Fei? What are you doing here?”
“Why? Am I not welcomed here?” She frowned.
Zhang Jun quickly waved his hands and said, “No, no, no!” He then quickly got up and offered her a seat. “Have a seat!”
Su Fei laughed at Zhang Jun’s silliness.
“Hey! What’s so funny?” Zhang Jun asked “angrily”.
Su Fei stopped laughing and pointed at the TV. “Who’s playing?”
“It’s Argentina versus Brazil.”
The match was heating up. Both teams were powerhouses of South American soccer, and when the two rivals clashed, it was always an exciting match to watch.
At one point of the game, the Brazilians scored themselves a corner kick and Zhang Jun finally got the chance to get himself a drink. The match had been too intense and he could not even blink, much less get some water. He would have missed a lot if he did so.
“Wait, didn’t the ball go out? Why aren’t they throwing it in instead? Isn’t that against the rules?” Su Fei suddenly exclaimed as she pointed at the screen.
Zhang Jun sprayed the water he just drank all over the coffee table.
“What’s the matter? Are you alright?”
“Huh? Nothing, I’m fine,” Zhang Jun said as he left the living room.
“Hey? You’re not gonna watch it anymore?”
A few moments later, Zhang Jun returned to the living room carrying a stack of books . He dropped them on the coffee table in front of a confused Su Fei.
“I have decided!” Zhang Jun looked at her with a very serious expression.
Zhang Jun pointed at her and said, “I’m going to teach you about the basic rules of soccer. People are so going to laugh at us if they find out that our team manager doesn’t even know the basics of the game!”
“Alright! That covers the basics. Here, take these with you.” Zhang Jun pointed at the stack of books on the coffee table. Su Fei picked one up and read through it as Zhang Jun continued, “I have a question.”
“You don’t even have basic knowledge of the game, why did you choose to become the manager in the first place? It’s just something I can’t understand.”
“I told you, I love soccer!” Su Fei answered him without raising her head from the book. “I don’t think that you need to fully understand soccer in order to love it, right? And, I also just fell in love with it this summer.”
“Is it because of the World Cup?”
“Yes! The World Cup! Beckham, Batistuta, Ronaldo and Zidane.”
“Looks like you know a few famous soccer players!”
“Fangirling is a girl’s natural talent!” Su Fei said as she brought her head up. “Who’s your favorite?”
“Mine? Well, basically those who play forward positions are my favorites, like Van Basten, Pele, Ronaldo… But, my favorite forward of all time is Romario.”
“That’s a lot of names I’ve never heard of.”
“…Well, let’s talk about something else. You won’t know what I’m talking about anyways.”
“Hmph! Don’t you dare look down on me! I’ll learn all these rules in a week!” Su Fei said angrily as she picked up all the books and left.
Zhang Jun watched as she left.
What a competitive girl!