Would You Mind If I Play? - Chapter 7

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 03:57:16]
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Chapter 7: Hat-Trick



Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation


At the sound of the referee’s whistle, the Shu Guang team initiated the kick-off. The entire pitch rang in a thunderous ovation, albeit the cheers were exclusively reserved for the home team.


Chen Huafeng picked a good spectating spot where he would be left alone and undisturbed as he watched the game.


What performance will the team’s quartet put on this time? There’s so much to look forward to!


The cheerleading team for Xin’an Yi High School was also filled with eager anticipation; with a game between two sides of such mismatched abilities, how many goals would their team bag? In earnest fervor, they shouted wave after wave of sonorous cheer in support of their own team.


However, they were left dumbstruck in an instant by Yang Pan.


Xin’an Yi High’s goalkeeper was left sitting on the ground and staring at his still-quaking goalpost. The number on the scoreboard was clear—0:1, the visitors were in the lead.


In celebration, Yang ran purposefully in front of the opposition team’s coach; With his arms spread and an expression of helpless glee on his face, he shrugged.


Over at his corner, Chen was getting excited; Yang’s shot—a repeated act—proved that it was not a fluke before. He retrieved a little notebook from his pocket, and eagerly noted it down on the page where he began a week’s worth of data collection on Yang Pan as well as Zhang Jun. On Yang Pan, he had already wrote:


“In third grade, he won the National Middle School Soccer Championship as a representative of Kai Ta Middle School. He was also picked into the “competing team”, and awarded the title of “King of Assists” in said championship.


“A capable body with an 11-second record in 100-m sprints, a prodigy among junior high students. His lightning speed augments his crosses from the wings, and his powerful shooting leg were key to victories during his middle school years. Heavily contributed by making plenty of breakthroughs in stalemate matches with his long shots. Someone once calculated that one of his shots reached speeds of 180km/h, a rare feat even among professionals and a great armament to break the opposition’s morale as well as boost his own team’s confidence.”


The last point was proven once more in today’s game; the Xin’an Yi team, clearly shaken after going behind, could neither rally nor form up in offense. Shu Guang on the other hand, were positively bursting in growing vigor with every passing moment.


At the twenty-sixth minute, Yang sped down the right wing. Leaving a pursuing defender behind, he crossed the ball into the middle, where Zhang Jun leapt and headed it in to make the score 2:0.


Fifty-fourth minute: Wang Bo catches Zhang’s pass for an easy finish. 3:0!


Sixty-second minute: Zhang Jun sweeps Yang’s pass into the back of the net. 4:0!


By then, every single supporter of Xin’an Yi High School had been silenced. They were feeling utterly crushed. There were even supporters who left the stands early.


On the coaches’ seat, Xin’an Yi’s coach felt as if he was sitting on a carpet full of needles; 0:4! Nobody could have imagined this scenario before the game. After all the other team stank, and had never progressed beyond the first round in nationals each year! Who could accept such a score? He shuddered at the very thought as he imagined himself facing the principal’s caustic face the next day.


The host team’s substitutes were also feeling as irked as he was. Rising from their seats from time to time,, they screamed and shouted at their teammates from the sidelines. They were feeling the pressure too—as part of the school team that earned a result of such infamy, would they still have any face left to stay in this school?


Under the roar of their teammates, Xin’an Yi finally went on the attack and their No.10 dribbled the ball to the edge of the penalty area. Although the Shu Guang defense mobilized in an attempt to stop his advance, they were paused by An Ke, who screamed, “Don’t stop him! Let him shoot! Really, took them half a day to get here! My hands are getting cold.”


The jibe struck No.10 hard; he shrieked in a bizarre manner before he fired from outside the box when An Ke moved.


“How could you”—he stopped the effort with one hand—”shoot like this? What kind of joke is this?” He cleared the ball even before he finished his sentence.


Indescribably appalled, the No.10 player felt incredible humiliation as a striker at the sight of his effort being stopped with just one hand. He even fired the ball with full strength!


As the match counted down, the ball once more fell to Yang Pan in his familiar hunting grounds of the right wing. He feinted a charge, and the opposing team’s defenders—who by now were scared silly by his speed—ran back immediately. Smiling with amusement, Yang back-passed to Zhang, who dribbled the ball and slipped into the box. Xin’an Yi’s team captain rushed in, his thoughts on only one thing. “We can’t concede another goal!”


But Zhang Jun did not perform any dummy move and merely accelerated. He charged to the right. His marker turned and followed his movement… only to find that Zhang was already a meter ahead of him in no time at all.


“He’s so… so fast!”


Yang Pan was smiling at the back. “You want to stop Zhang Jun with just your two-bit ability? His 5 to 15-m dashes are incomparable. You’ve lost as soon as you let him into the box! In it, he’s king!”


Outrunning the last defender, Zhang went one-on-one with the keeper; he abruptly dropped his left shoulder and raised his right leg to shoot! The goalie quickly dived to the right, but An Ke, who saw everything clearly from far behind, could not help but scream, “Moron! That’s not it! You’ve been tricked!”


Naturally, the other keeper could not hear An Ke from the other end, and the ball flew into the net on his left—an exact replay of the time An Ke himself was fooled by Zhang.


“Moron! Fool! Imbecile! Dimwit!” An Ke cursed and slammed his gloves on the ground, as if he was the one who just conceded the goal.


The referee blew the whistle and pointed towards the center circle. 5:0!


A hat-trick!


Su Fei leaped out her chair at once in celebration! “Fantastic! Fantastic! Fantastic!” Not quite finding another appropriate word other than “fantastic” for her moment of ecstasy, she kept repeating herself. This prompted a weird glance from Liang Ke.


In that moment, the heart of Xin’an Yi High’s coach dropped. Knowing that the principal was lurking in a corner somewhere and watching, he knew beyond any doubt that he would be sacked in the morning.


Meanwhile, as soon as Xin’an Yi got the ball to the center, the referee whistled to signal the end of the second half.


The match was over! 5:0! An inconceivable landslide victory for Shu Guang! The team went into a fervent group hug in celebration, which was probably amusing to the eye of others; was this not only a practice match after all?


Still, for them, the win meant a lot.


What’s the fun in soccer? Beautiful goals? Entertaining dribbles? Or impregnable defenses? In the end and at the crux, it is a desire to win. It is the same for a real match or just a friendly. Only those who are relentless for victory can enjoy soccer and enjoy the fun; for what enjoyment would there be for teams that never win? When was the last time the Shu Guang team won? Those who have won were probably unable to recall it by now, thus many of them most likely the sensation of winning. Now, Zhang Jun and Yang Pan allowed them to remember the sweet taste of triumph, reigniting a flame that had long been extinguished. Perhaps this was the reason Liang Ke set up this practice match!


Su Fei was just as excited as the rest of the team. It was her first game as manager and they had already earned an incredible victory. Unable to contain her feelings, she scampered around and hugged anyone within reach. Zhang Jun gaped at the sight from a corner, and asked Yang Pan, who was beside him, “Shouldn’t someone remind her that this is not very cool?”


“Not cool? Looks perfectly cool to me!” Yang Pan beamed, and immediately made a dash. “Su Fei, me too! I’m a huge contributor to the victory!”


“No way, you big pervert!”


Liang Ke looked at the chaotic scene but made no move to stop it. He knew that the kids had been bottling up their feelings for far too long; it was time for them to let it out.


“No.11.”


Zhang Jun stopped his “intimacy” with Yang Pan and turned to find the opposing team’s captain.


An Ke came too. “What? Not happy with the loss?” He challenged.


But the other ignored An and merely told Zhang, “Although I don’t know your name, I have your shirt number in my memory now. I really want to play you once more, but it won’t be in a practice match. It’ll be in the wild west of the national qualifiers. Just remember, don’t get eliminated early!”


With those words, the captain turned and left without waiting for a reply from Zhang.


“What! So despicable! Who knows who will be eliminated then!” An Ke shouted, “Oi! You guys take care of yourselves too!”


Soon after, Liang Ke waved at his squad who were still chattering about the match that had just ended. “Okay boys, let’s hurry on home! Don’t catch a cold, the big game is coming up!”


“Oh!!!” The procession of twenty-plus heads answered in unison, breaking the silence of the school during the weekend.


Ren Yu De was the last to leave; after slowly packing things up, he even took a small break before treading home. It was an exhausting match for him; after running for almost eighty minutes, he almost pulled a muscle.


It had been a year and a half since his first proper match; he did not expect it to be so strenuous. Seeing his teammates scoring one goal after another made him want to join in on the fun too; but when his chance came in the sixty-seventh minute, he could only watch as the ball rolled wide across the open goal post.


“What are you doing?!” Wang Bo, who made the pass then, yelled at him.


As a matter of fact, he knew exactly what he was doing. In that moment, his supporting leg suddenly gave out, and failing to hold his body upright, his outstretched left leg missed the ball by mere inches. To any onlooker it would have looked like a slip, but he knew that it was him being physically inadequate. After a year and a half of not playing a proper game, to play one under his current physical condition was forcing it. Even if he had skills above the rest, without fulfilling the typical visceral requirements, his skills and movements would slouch like it did today—just as the saying goes: the heart is willing, but the body is weak.


Annoyed at those very thoughts, Ren’s hand retrieved a pack of unopened cigarettes that he just bought that day from his shirt pocket. In habit he opened the seal, drew one out and slipped it into his mouth before taking out his lighter, preparing to ignite it. Then, he suddenly remembered something. In a hurry, he snuffed it off and stuffed the cigarette back into the pack.


He held the box in front of him and squinted; it was such a familiar package! Today however, a line of words stood out, “Smoking is hazardous to health”. He pretty much never noticed them, and then, the scene of him helplessly watching the ball roll past him replayed in his mind in slow motion—it was so infuriating!


He looked at the pack of cigarettes once more, and squeezed it before flinging it into the air with full force.


It’s time for a different lifestyle.


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