Pain run­ning in the Peo­ple’s Race, goal­keep­ers’ pain, and pain for Pi­rates

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

‘WHY DO we do this to our­selves?” one run­ner asked about the san­ity, or lack thereof, of pun­ish­ing your body for 42.2km all in the name of “fun”, with just 3km to go at the Soweto Marathon last week.

By that time I was in a world of pain. My shoul­der blades felt like a thou­sand nee­dles were prick­ing them. My feet felt like I was walk­ing bare­foot on hot coals while my thighs were on fire and my legs had the un­for­tu­nate task of car­ry­ing me with all that pain. I sneaked into the fin­ish line af­ter five hours and 26 min- utes to end the tor­ment of a gru­elling marathon on a hot day af­ter prop­erly ex­plor­ing Soweto.

But the spirit of the Sowe­tans in the “Peo­ple’s Race” did make it a spe­cial out­ing. They came out in their num­bers to cheer us, of­fer­ing wa­ter, ba­nanas, pota­toes, salt, even beer and other stuff along with sup­port. The bronze medal that I got for my ef­fort was worth gold to me be­cause cross­ing that fin­ish line is richly re­ward­ing, mak­ing all that pain worth it.

Run­ning a marathon was the fur­thest thing from my mind when I started run­ning two years ago. The aim was just to lose weight and keep fit but then I got ad­dicted and it be­came about im­prov­ing, run­ning faster and longer. Who knows, maybe next year I might do the Com­rades? – which is even more in­sane. But then again, I have never had san­ity in bucket loads and sur­viv­ing in Joburg strips you of it inch-by-inch ev­ery day.

The only thing cra­zier than run­ning a marathon is be­ing a goal­keeper. It’s a gru­elling and thank­less job that pun­ishes your body and mind. Your hero­ics are quickly for­got­ten, your mis­takes live for eter­nity.

“He wears the num­ber one on his back,” Ed­uardo Galeano writes about the goal­keeper in Foot­ball in Sun and Shadow. “The first to be paid? No, the first to pay. It’s al­ways the keeper’s fault. And if it isn’t, he still gets blamed. When any player com­mits a foul, he’s the one who gets pun­ished. They leave him there in the im­men­sity of the empty net, aban­doned to face his ex­e­cu­tioner alone. And when the team has a bad af­ter­noon, he’s the one who pays the bill, ex­pi­at­ing the sins of oth­ers un­der a rain of fly­ing balls. The rest of the play­ers can blow it once in a while, or of­ten, but re­deem them­selves with a spec­tac­u­lar drib­ble, a mas­ter­ful pass, a well-placed vol­ley. Not him. The crowd never for­gives the keeper.”

Wayne Sandi­lands knows this bet­ter than any­one at the mo­ment. Af­ter a bright start to his ca­reer at Or­lando Pi­rates, keep­ing four clean sheets in his first five matches – the Buc­ca­neers’ goal­keeper went from hero to vil­lain af­ter just one match. The Ghost have sud­denly for­got­ten how much he saved them at the be­gin­ning by be­ing an as­sur­ing fig­ure as Pi­rates’ de­fence trans­formed from a por­ous bunch to a more solid unit. But one mis­take against his for­mer team, Mamelodi Sun­downs, washed away all of that.

But Sandi­lands’ strug­gle and the Buc­ca­neers’ short mem­ory is just a symp­tom of the club’s prob­lems. Pi­rates have im­proved from the mis­er­able team they were last sea­son but they are still far from be­ing an all-con­quer­ing team that their fans and his­tory ex­pect them to be. It was naïvety that made any­one think that they would turn things around in such a short time.

Coach Mi­lutin Sre­do­je­vic still has a mam­moth task ahead of him. Bucs could still fin­ish this sea­son with­out a tro­phy, some­thing they haven’t had since 2014. They might be on the right path but need to make some im­prove­ments.

The club needs a solid an­chor in de­fence. Their so­lu­tions to that role have only been tem­po­rary. Issa Sarr has done a good job in mid­field and with Tham­sanqa Sang­weni wait­ing in the wings they should be fine. The big­gest prob­lem for the club is find­ing goals con­sis­tently. Pi­rates have been woe­ful in front of goals.

Poor fin­ish­ing cost them the match against the Brazil­ians and led to their elim­i­na­tion in the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Telkom Knock­out at the hands of Polok­wane City. Ev­ery­one as­so­ci­ated with Pi­rates must brace them­selves as things will not turn around in­stantly. It will be a gru­elling process with ups and downs, re­quir­ing pa­tience and en­durance.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.