The “guardian call” missive from school was the closest thing you could experience to a letter from the income tax authorities while growing up. If your luck was out, two things could happen. Your parents would either be berated for their ward engaging in that most heinous crime of them all— “talking in class and making it into a fish market” (I went to school in Kolkata as you can tell) or for the equally dire ” not up to standard of the class” which was sometimes an euphemism for “Sign the kid up in my coaching center”. If your luck was better, the teacher would gently chide your parents for your “silly mistakes” (like forgetting, just once in a seventeen-step problem, to change the sign when you changed sides in an equation or copying the number wrong to the “Answer” line). Not that it meant you would not get a zero or that you did not need to attend the teacher’s coaching class (after all practice makes perfect) but at least the teacher acknowledged that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with you, sans the irritating habit of getting distracted while doing your HCFs and LCMs.
Watching the opening exchanges of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, I feel as if I am watching schoolboys doing a whole lot of “silly mistakes” on the greatest stage of the world, a place where you would think they would come after going through all the problem sets of KC Nag and KP Basu (without looking at the back of book for solutions) at least twice and definitely after having solved the last twelve year’s test papers (with timing).
First there was Green, the British goalkeeper, whose Deep Dasgupta-fumble, outrageous even by the standards of Kolkata parar (community) soccer league, was possibly the worst example of “silly mistake” I have seen, matched only in its ludicrousness by this guy I knew who forgot that you do multiplication before you do subtraction using the BODMAS rule (in his defense, he did not have this brilliant flash animation to help him then). Green’s mistake, I think can be tagged “silly “because right after that he made an excellent save which showed that “his basics were correct” but then again —-a zero is still a zero, a kiss is still a kiss and a miss still a miss. Green was lucky that he never went to our school else Fabio Capello would come out off his bench and boxed his ears right then and there.
Then there was Kuzmanovic of Serbia who, again in a moment of utter silliness, used an Altaf Raja style “Ja bewaafa ja” hand slap to swat away the ball when it came near him, standing in his own penalty box, right in front of the referee, which of course lead to a deciding penalty. To top this circus of silly, there was Paulsen of Denmark’s own-goal (he is lucky he does not live in Colombia) and a whole range of elementary errors from most teams, like defensive clearances across the face of goal and staying on the line rather than going at the attacker, elementary boo-boobs that can only be put down to “lack of concentration” because obviously these players would not have been promoted to this class if they were actually this inept.
But I am not willing to let Abdelkader Ghezzal of Algeria get away so easy. What he did was not silliness. No that was plain and simple mischief like the guy in Class 7 who feigned a thirst for knowledge by holding his hair and asking our Hindi sir “Sir iska Hindi kya hai?” (Baal, commonly used to denote a specific kind of hair in our slang, being a word which caused sniggers in the back benches).
Ghezzal came on as a substitute in the 58th minute and then get a yellow card in the 59th minute. I mean if you cannot be on good behavior for even a minute, surely there is something wrong. But that was just the beginning. In the 74th minute for without any pressing reason, he struck his hand out to a cross directed at him, handballed, got his second yellow and left his team a man short, just going to show that he was a “misbehaved boy” who definitely needs suspension rather than a rap on the knuckles.
The World Cup is just a few days old and the number of such unforced errors have been immense. Its not that howlers did not happen before—like Colombian macho-man Higuita grandstanding with the ball and having it pinched from him by the wily fox Roger Milla but that was a mistake due to over-confidence, the kind the arrogant topper makes when he leaves the exam hall half an hour before the end without revising his answers.
Of course, excuses are flying thick and fast. Like the Jabulani ball and the incessant pealing of the vuvuzela. That’s like blaming the unavailability of Camlin erasers for not being able to identify the gerunds in the sentence or blaming the “Dim parota dim parota” beats of “Dekha Hai Paheli Baar” from Sajaan for your inability to remember how to prove Corollary 3 of Theorem 17.
Surely the cream of the world should have prepared based on the new syllabus of the Jabulani and should have been focused enough to filter out all extraneous noise from their heads.
As our Class 2 teacher, the one who pronounced “bear” as “beer” would have said—- “No excuse. No excuse. Chop….Eiiii chop…”
Get your acts together people. We football fans deserve better.
[Pictures courtesy Yahoo and Telegraph]