A TEACHER that impressed me in school was my U13/U14 soccer coach.
CS is from Tinputz, Bougainville, and was a very quiet man. He was my English teacher too and had the best handwriting. (The last time I heard, he was still teaching in Bougainville.)
He was not the soccer star-turned coach - but took on the responsibility very well.
Every day, during practice day, Mr CS would turn up in our school colours (in shorts and T-shirt) and watch from the side, saying little but relying on the leadership of the bigger boys on our team to go through exercise routines and game plans.
We started off as the U13B team in the Port Moresby School Boys Soccer Competition; the A team was made of the more fancied players.
At the end of the season, however, we were in the top three of teams participating and got the third-placed medals. Our U13A team did not fare that well.
In the following year, we the U13B team became the U14A team. The teachers had recognised our potential and made us the first team.
In that year, Mr CS continued to be there for almost all training sessions, again saying very little – but just being around.
At the end of the season, and going through two rounds, we were undefeated – we were kind of the “minor premiers”.
I, one of the smallest on the team, by then knew how to curve long kicks from the left back to our midfielders or forwards.
Our team was the only soccer team in our school to go into a grand final in that year but we lost by a 2-0 score line because the other high school team (whom we had beaten in both rounds during the season) fielded players who were older and might have been playing in the upper divisions.
When we lost, our boys wanted to fight the opposing team but Mr CS stopped them. He never complained ... as far as I can remember, and may not have lodged a complaint with the School Boys Soccer organising committee about the cheating by the school.
Despite that disappointment, I remember Mr CS for just ... being around. He was reliable and committed and I think that was what many of us who were new to competitive football needed.
I left that school at the end of the year and went up north, back to my own hometown, and did not continue with my team members into the U15 division competition.
PS. I have said it many times that if that cheating high school fielded the same team the following year and any other year afterwards, we would have nailed them. You know, you can cheat small boys, but small boys do grow up eventually into big boys who can stand up against you and show you who the real champions are.