Would You Mind If I Play? - Chapter 8[Updated at: 2021-01-11 03:57:16]
Chapter 8: Interview
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The National High School Soccer Championship was founded in 1985 in conjunction with the Youth Soccer Program’s slogan, which read, “The cultivation of soccer must start from toddlers!”.
On the levels preceding it were the National Middle School Soccer Championship and the National Elementary School Soccer Championship. These competitions were held annually and, in consideration of the college entrance exams, took place during the winter holidays. Since the Chinese Professional Championship was established in 1994, there would be a live television broadcast of the high school tournament even as its standard and module continue to improve and expand—it was a sign of the standard it had reached, where even professional teams began to send scouts to watch for prospective talents every year in those games.
And that was how the Nationals essentially became a festive season for the high school soccer scene. With 64 participating teams getting eliminated at different stages and asserting themselves ahead of 35,000 high school teams, they represented the standard of each county—the winning team was the unquestionable champion of high school soccer!
Every year, the regional qualifiers for the tournament would begin soon after freshmen were inducted into their respective schools. There were a total of 32 competitive regions including the respective counties, the federal territories and the special administrative region (Hong Kong).
But among them, the Luoyang County was an exemption—while it was a typical county ,it was singled out by the managing board as a singular competitive region. Their decision was due to a matter of results; of the 13 championships held so far, six of them were won by a single school within the region—the high school attached to Zhongyuan University of Science and Technology were an indisputable giant among the high school soccer teams, with six championship titles and three runner-ups placed under their belt.
Indeed, their mere existence was of such influence that the Youth Soccer’s board of directors were concerned about the entire scene of Henan Province being affected negatively. Therefore, they decided to assign Luoyang to its very own competitive region. After all, the National High School Soccer Championship was different from the World Cup; even the defending champions would still have to go through the qualifiers of every new season—with Zhongyuan High’s stranglehold on the representative spot for their region every year, there was such despair that other schools began to lose interest in the national tournament.
This was why everyone effectively celebrated when the panel announced their decision.
And now, the Luoyang regional fixtures for the 14th National High School Championship had been distributed to each school, with kick-offs for the opening match planned for 3.00pm on the upcoming Saturday. Every person in anticipation who had been fighting hard for a year, waited for it eagerly.
The players circled Liang Ke as they tried to catch a glimpse of the schedule in his hand.
“Who will be our opponents in the first round?” Those who could not squeeze inside the circle shouted.
“Don’t rush! Don’t rush!” The ones within the circle replied.
“It’s Zhong Xin Heavy Industries Technical High School!” Someone shouted, and the entire activity room instantly went quiet.
“Zhong Xin Heavy Industries Technical High?” At the sight of the baffled Chen Huafeng, Sun Liang Liang laughed with malice. “What?”
“You didn’t know? They won fifth-place last year and were only eliminated after a long, fearsome fight against Zhongyuan High, which lasted 100 minutes; they are not your run-of-the-mill team!”
“I know, so what?”
“They are the ones that the Shu Guang team you admire so much will face in the first round.” Sun’s eyebrow lit up as he emphasized he emphasized “you admire so much’. “You still think they have a chance?”
Huafeng pouted and turned to leave, bumping into Chief Editor Liu Yang on his way out.
“What’s the rush, Chen? Heading to Shu Guang again?”
“Yes! And I will now dash over for an interview because I’m afraid I’d have to queue up after the first round!” Chen raised his voice as he finished the last part.
“Lord Editor, want to make a bet?” Chen smiled.
“Urgh, it’s fine, I’m not that young and foolish!”
“Zhong Xin Technical High….” Someone murmured, and the atmosphere of the activity room became stuffy almost immediately.
It was Su Fei who then broke the silence, “What’s up with all of you? I don’t get it! Didn’t we just totally destroy Xin’an Yi High last Saturday? We played so well, so why the long faces?”
Her words woke everyone from their reverie.
“That’s right! Almost forgot that match!”
“That game was… tut, tut!”
“Yang Pan’s long shot is too good! With that, who do we have to fear?!”
“We still have An Ke’s goalkeeping at the back, and Zhang Jun scoring up front. Come to think of it, we are pretty strong!”
“Hehe! Losing so many times before, getting scared is almost a habit huh!”
Liang Ke looked on contentedly as their expressions changed. He never knew with a few words, Su Fei could have so much impact. It really was not enough for the manager to only do the washing and documenting!
As the squad filed out of the activity room, their faces and spirits were glaringly different. Their coach followed—but a young man, with a camera on his chest and a notebook on his hand, approached him as he was leaving.
“Are you Coach Liang Ke, in charge of the Shu Guang High School?”
“I am. And you are…”
“Oh, I am Chen Huafeng, a reporter for High School Soccer, ” the other answered while handing him his name card, which Liang Ke scrutinized. “I’m here to interview the Shu Guang High School soccer team.”
“You? Interview? Us?” Liang pointed at Chen, and then his squad. “Am I dreaming?”
“Hur, hur! Mr. Liang, you are such a comedian. I believe your school team has considerable ability, especially with the addition of those few first-year students…”
Liang Ke’s heart was moved; he now looked straight at the young man, who continued, “…That is why I would like some firsthand data.”
“No problem. Just tell us what you’d like to know. As long as it doesn’t concern secret tactics, I’ll tell you everything I know without holding back…” Liang Ke replied. Straightening his hair and clothes, he added, “Do you want to take a picture first?”
On the pitch.
“Coach is being interviewed; he ordered everyone to run three laps around the pitch in the meantime,” Su Li relayed the message to the crowd after getting his directives.
The team erupted in protests.
“What?! He’s getting interviewed while we are running laps?”
“We protest! We protest!”
“I want to be interviewed too.”
“How is our school getting an interview with our standards? Is the coach being conned?”
Even with the disgruntled chatter, they would still have to run, which they did unwillingly; and each time they ran past the reporter, the squad would yell their team catchphrases in unison to try to catch his attention.
“One last thing, would it be fine for me to take photos of some of the players?” Chen said as he pocketed his notebook and took out his camera.
“Sure thing! Who do you want?”
“Zhang Jun, Yang Pan, An Ke and Ren Yu De.”
“Zhang Jun! Yang Pan! An Ke! Ren Yu De! Come over here for a bit!”
The quartet approached under the envious gazes of the rest of their teammates.
“So, here’s how it is”—Chen began, holding out his camera—”I need you guys to help me out as I take a series of photos of each one of you. I will also give you instructions in a bit on how to do it. Any questions?”
“Alright! We’ll take a group photo first; everyone, huddle up. There’s no need to be nervous. Relax a little, relax!”
Su Fei grinned at Zhang Jun from a corner. “Look at your bunched-up face, it’s like someone owes you money. This ain’t a photo session for the deceased!”
Zhang Jun stared sharply at her. “Mind your own business!” He shouted back and was stunned as he turned back. “Wowza! What’s that supposed to be?”
An Ke was making weird faces at everyone. “Here, here, this is the way! Everybody follow me!”
“An Ke! No weird stuff!” Liang Ke growled.
The others laughed as the air around them became less tense. Chen Huafeng immediately leapt to the occasion and with a few shutter clicks, he captured their bright smiles on film. After that, he moved on and photographed them individually as they posed according to his instructions.
“We’re finally free!” An Ke exclaimed as he plonked himself on the ground. “That was so exhausting! Even more exhausting than playing a match! He wanted me to first make a dive to the right, and then a dive to the left. Does he think that he’s at a monkey show?”
“You said that yourself!” Yang Pan retorted.
Realising his mistake, An Ke tried to switch topics awkwardly. “Who knows if the photos are really getting published. But if they are, we’ll be famous! We’ll become celebrities! Flowers! Hot babes! Money! Bonus points in exams! People will ask for our autographs on the streets, and journalists will come for interviews in droves! Playing hooky for days will be perfectly fine, and if the class teacher asks, I’ll just tell him like a boss, ‘I went to the TV station for a program!\'”
“Everyone, let’s stay away from that guy.”