I played football in Apache Oklahoma in 1973 for the Apache Warriors. I was a warrior!
The coaches did their best to bring this African up to speed on the rules and objectives of gridiron. No, you can’t take your spear, they said. KIDDING!! We played two pre-season warm-up games followed by five league games. And lost all seven encounters!
Myself I was kinda lost on the field, what without me specs! So here’s me: Myopically peering between the bars of the unfamiliar helmet at the glare of the night-time spotlights! Hello-o! Occasionally forgetting that I could be tackled or ‘blocked’ even if the ball was way on the other side of the field! They decided to play me more on the defense squad, less on offense, which makes sense when you don’t know what you’re doing. Then for some reason, I was also on the punt-receiving squad.
At that point I thought: Five more weeks in America, five more games in the season, football practice four days a week, game nights on Fridays. I wanted out! There was so much I still wanted to do in Oklahoma and in preparing for the trip home. I went up to Coach with trepidation and told him I wanted to quit football. Well, he wasn’t pleased, but he was gracious.
We were a small team and he needed every available man, how would they manage without me?
By winning every single one of the last remaining five games, that’s how!!
Our coach Rick Hulett won the Most Improved Coach Award and the team ended up with one of their best seasons for years!
I like to think the turnaround was in some small way helped by the way I cheered my former team-mates on from the sideline at the remaining Friday night games! But I suspect it was the fire in the belly of my teammates determined to succeed without me!
These news cuttings are all post-me!! –
One of the games I cheered was against Mountain View. We beat them 23-7, the third winning game since I quit. That weekend Jenny Carter from Bromley in Zimbabwe, the Rotary exchange student from Mountain View was staying with us at the Swandas. We gave her a hard time at the Friday night game, and Sunday morning for breakfast we framed the Saturday news report of the game and put it on her place at the table!
I see Apache football has had some great results more recently!