No more of The Badger’s articles can be considered for the upcoming Smedia awards, so expect a sharp decline in quality…
Did you know that there was a time when the Badger nearly made the Down Underers’ under-13s soccer team? It’s an interesting story, as the Badger contests Aussie Cup finals, has a run-in with Dwight Yorke and causes bodily harm.
In the early 2000s, the Badger found himself residing in the Oceania region of FIFA’s broad world map. At the time, Australian soccer was at an all-time high of monotonously qualifying for the Oceania vs CONMEBOL World Cup playoff game that continuously pitted the Socceroos against Uruguay. Unfortunately they lost out 3-1 to Uruguay on aggregate in the 2002 FIFA World Cup playoff, but the Aussies took immense pride in their remarkable 1-0 home win at Cook’s Harbour.
This content attitude that sees the Aussies satisfied to nearly qualify for the most prestigous football competition sums up the entire ethos of the nation – and, to be honest, it took the Badger by surprise. When this young bruiser took the long 23-hour flight down under, he was expecting to see a country full of over-exuberant and cocky weight-lifting sports nuts.
At first this is the profile which the Badger was met with, and from the start incessant attempts were made by Aussies to intimidate him using their confidence developed through greater physical disposition. (Their true identity was to soon shine through, though, but back to the story.)
Upon his arrival, the Badger signed for Maroubra Soccer Club, a relatively small club based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, who play their home games in Coral Sea Park. The club was in dire straits at the time as during the 2000 season they had suffered multiple relegations. All 15 age grades at the club – from the senior side to the under-6s – had suffered relegation, with every side finishing last in their league.
After signing for Maroubra, there was a lot of hype surrounding the impending arrival of this international signing from Ireland. This hysteria was typified by the turnout at the Badger’s first training session for Maroubra. Upwards of five vibrant fans showed up in the scorching heat to see the Badger display his skills, and he did not disappoint.
Playing for his place in the team amongst thirty other 11 or 12-year-olds, the Badger lined up in his typical playmaker position and gave a masterclass in the art of box-to-box midfield play. The stats didn’t lie and depicted the sheer quality of the Badger. Over one-hundred passes completed, assisting three goals and hitting the cross bar on two seperate occasions, the crowd was in awe at the Badger’s skill set. The only reason the Badger didn’t win the Man of the Match award because his side lost 6-2.
The coach blew his whistle to bring the first training session to an end and naturally began sorting the players into the respective A, B and C teams. The Badger’s name was first to be called as he was drafted into the under-12 B side, a team who had not known the sweet taste of victory since February 1999. But the Badger was going to change that.
After impressing consistently in training and making the strongest claim to be awarded the number 10 jersey in an Argentinian-esque Maroubra side, the Badger made his first start in a Sunday fixture against the Maccabi Hakoah. Now the Badger can be sketchy on the exact details sometimes, but he is definitely sure that he made his debut on a Sunday, only due to that fact that Maccabi are an all Jewish team, and due to their commitment to some religion, refused to play on a Saturday. Wimps.
Although the fans did not appreciate the result, they were optimistic about the overall display from the team, but more importantly the Badger.
Pick up the next edition of The University Observer to catch the second half of this exhilarating story.