Written by: Alex Szigeti
There are two different kinds of soccer players. The first type is the ones who don’t care how the team does as long as they play all the time and play well. They care first and foremost for their own personal gain and accomplishments. The second type is players who will sacrifice their playing time for the success of the team as a whole. They don’t necessarily care about how much or how often they play, so long as the team can win their games. Ideally, in a perfect world, you would want for the team to be full of the latter kind of players. To have a bench full of players who don’t mind having their playing time cut, so that the team can succeed is the “dream” of a coach. However when the quality of players who play five minutes a game versus the ones who play seventy, is minuscule, it becomes all that much harder for everyone to be alright having their playing time cut. Yet what often separates the good teams from the great teams is the ability of the substitutes. If they do happen to be willing to accept and go along with the coaches decisions, it makes the substitutes that much better once they do step on the field. No longer are they ball hogging to try to show off their great moves and impress the coach, they are doing whatever’s in the team’s best interest even if he may not appear as impressive. Thankfully, Harbord’s Senior Boys soccer team is full of those players.
You form a bond with the other players who sit on the bench. As the coach calls one of us to get ready to enter the game, he’s met with all sorts of cliché lines like “go get ‘em kid” and “knock ‘em dead.” As he steps onto the field, he’s met with applause. His first touch on the ball, he’s met with applause. Anything remotely well done within the first couple minutes of getting on the field, is met with applause. Applause may be a strong word to describe what he receives from the nine guys on the bench, perhaps more of a gentle cheering. But for him, it’s as loud as any cheer any other player would receive throughout the course of the game. When they make a tackle or a solid pass or score a goal, the bench is not only happy for the team but they almost feel validated, because it wasn’t just that player who did it, it was the bench that played so well. By no means is it the same feeling as physically stepping onto the field and playing, but you genuinely do feel for player when he’s involved in a good play. The expected jealousy of not being the substitute chosen to play, is not as prevalent as would be thought. The biggest reason is because Harbord’s Senior Soccer team has a goal of OFSAA, and so far, we are looking as if it is a very real possibility. Being one of only a handful of Harbord sports teams playing in tier 1, it gives us a rare chance to do so. Harbord has a reputation for being a purely academic school with consistently sub-par sports teams. That has not, however, been the case as of late, as our soccer teams have slowly become a force to reckon with. After the girls’ soccer team won the City Championships last year, we have a chance of proving Harbord’s excellent soccer program yet again this year. On a team coached by Mr. Purchas and captained by Anton Meier, we are well on our way. After securing a place in the playoffs, we can only go up. Not at all will it be easy, but watch out Toronto, Harbord’s on the rise.