The Dark Arts of Football - Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1684 Words
Date:  2022-09-12


Bernard Smith had come up through the ranks to become the head coach of one of the non-league football teams in London. He loved football, something that was evident by the amount of time he spent on his team. He would watch films of other much more successful teams in the Premier League and he would try to replicate their systems every weekend. Bernard was tall, slightly thin with a large beard. He was loud. No, he had a booming sound that helped him shout and the players would distinctively hear him across the pitch. However, despite his loud voice, he had kind eyes, something that the young players found attractive if not brotherly. However, life in non-league football was very different because players were slower and the playing surface was rough.

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Then one day out of nowhere, he had been called to the office of the owners of the club and he had been fired. That moment is something that would continue to inspire and scare Bernard for a very long time. In the years, to follow, he would forget about almost everything else apart from the grey and cold English winter and the fact that he had managed to come to work early soaking weather.

He had felt naked, humiliated and betrayed by the owners of the team after months of sacrifice and almost no pay as he walked across the training ground towards the main gate. Before entering his car, he'd turned back, clenched his fists and help up his hands. Everyone, including his assistant coach, had held up their hands, perhaps in recognition of what he had done with the team there. His wife Lara had sobbed when he got home. She'd cursed something to do with the fact that the team would never get someone so dedicated like Benny. She liked to call him Benny.

For a very long time, Bernard had been able to convince himself that he did not want a career in football management. He had managed to convince himself that football was a hobby he dared not pursue and that he would eventually find a job in a company. However, two weeks after being fired, it had hit him that what he loved and enjoyed doing was coaching and managing football. From that day onwards, he forgot about the suits and everything else and focused on becoming a professional soccer coach.

Unknown to him, events on the other side of the world were unfolding that would completely change his life forever. Deep inside Indonesia in Asia, a relatively young and new team by the name "Young Warriors" had been promoted to the major football league and was desperately looking for a young experienced coach to hire. Unknown to Bernard, some scouts had been to some of his matches and his name had been proposed to the Young Warriors and a potential coach.

The call came on a Saturday evening while lazing around his apartment in London. He did not know a lot about Asian football but he had heard a lot about some of the football dark arts there, including match-fixing. He had no clue how it was done or how frequent it was but it scared him a little. However, this was also his chance to be the head coach at a much bigger club and maybe with enough experience, he would one day come back and coach at the Premier League level, the crown jewel in English club football.

On Monday morning he was at the airport, traveling to a place he had not known existed only a few days ago. However, with everything paid for, he had arrived in the capital Vaja in the middle of the night and had gone straight to bed in his hotel room. As he had drifted off to sleep, he remembered the excitement of his next chapter in life and although he was not a deeply religious man, he remembered murmuring something to do with God. Then, Tuesday morning, he had woken up to the most beautiful morning that he had ever seen.

The location of the hotel gave him the chance to smell the moist warm morning and despite being at the edge of the jungle, the sun's rays penetrated the tinted glass door of his hotel room and he was aware that this was probably the most beautiful morning that he had seen in the thirty-five years that he had been alive. However, he had little time because he received a call requesting him to be ready in half an hour because the team was sending a driver to take him to the club's training ground.

On arrival, he met the owners who to his surprise were two young wealthy men in their mid-forties. They were jovial and judging by their dressing, obviously very wealthy. After a few moments of introduction, he was ushered to a large office full of trophies and flags. Despite the assuring smiles of everyone in the office, he was scared and the only thing he could tell himself was "oh God, I hope I'll pass the interview, they look like a nice football club down here."

However, his fear would soon be replaced by relief because no sooner had the meeting started than one of the young owners told him that he had already been chosen to take over the management of the team based on his record in England and the reports from the scouts. The only thing that was required of him was to pose for a few photos and attend an interview with the club's journalist before gearing up for the beginning of the league in less than three weeks.

The owners had been frank with their assessment of the team and had told him that their goal was to be at the top ten by the end of the season and would bump his salary significantly if he made it to the top five. He'd made an impromptu speech about his joy at joining the club and his belief that the club would go for the league trophy. He sensed that the owners had made a significant investment in him and the facilities and they would not be happy with anything less than a top ten finish.

The first thing that Bernard did that afternoon was to call his longtime friend and former assistant coach John and tell him to prepare to come to Indonesia. There had not heard a tinge of hesitation in John's voice. Next, he called his wife Lara and she was happy for him. They agreed that she would come to visit after a month. The following day would be spent visiting the club's facilities including the gym, the training pitches, the indoor swimming pools, and the club hotel among other major facilities. It would also be the time to get introduced to the club doctors, the nutritionist, and other personnel. He would also be introduced to three new players who had been signed after the promotion a few weeks ago.

Two months into the season and the team was performing well. It could even be said that the team was excellent owing to a ten-match unbeaten run. However, Bernard's first encounter with match-fixing came just when everything was perfect and the team was playing in a minor cup final. The young warriors were the betting favorites owing to their unbeaten run in the cup competition. Bernard had done his bit well from having his tactics spot on to give a passionate team talk before entering the pitch.

With his team comfortably leading with two goals to none, the wheels started to come off right in front of his eyes. In the first instance, the keeper came out to collect a routine cross but seemed to hesitate, take a few steps back before charging forward again before committing a foul just outside the eighteen yard box. From the ensuing free-kick, the opponents scored. Then barely five minutes after the break, his most experienced defender committed an obvious foul in the penalty box and conceded a penalty before seeing a red card. The opponents scored an easy penalty. Bernard could not believe his eyes. The nightmare was real.

With one man less, his team would end up losing four goals to two. The team had robbed him of obvious glory and a career-defining moment. What killed him the most is that with only half an hour to go, he had been sailing on the top of the world. Through intense pressing and fast counter-attacks, his team had sucked the life out of its opponents. He had imagined how he would celebrate with the team into the night and how back home the report of his achievements would shock his former employers. Again he muttered, "They've robbed me, God." He was surprised that whenever he was enveloped with darkness in his life is when he often remembered the existence of a deity.

That evening, he walked home with a loser's medal around his neck. So confused was Bernard that he left his coat in the changing room. Not even the chants of the opposition supporters would touch him from the shell he had withdrawn into with their chants "you suck." As he trudged home, he suddenly felt betrayed and tired. He was sure that some of his players had thrown the match. That was the only logical explanation. They had been professionals up to that point. After what seemed like an entire night, he made it home.


The events following the fateful match would lead to a nationwide investigation that would reveal the extent of the rot in the league. As he had suspected, rogue agents by the betting firms had infiltrated his team and had bribed both his most experienced defender and the goalkeeper to lose the match for a certain sum. The club was fined a huge sum and the players involved had their contracts terminated. However, Bernard had had his heart broken too many times and it would take something special to convince him to stay in Indonesia.

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