The Little Champion
“The Little Champion” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Muhammad Salman, Nobles International School Petro Rabigh, Saudi Arabia.
The Little Champion
“Good Morning, Mike” said Mike’s mother.
It was a usual Monday morning for Mike, a 12-year-old child who had been tired of sleeping on the ground and eating hard bread and a slice of a cheese for breakfast. He was also tired of going to school with a quarter and eating cabbage for dinner. He was a member of a poor family. His parents were, very hard workers, trying to make it in life. His Dad had worked at a bottle factory placing the lids on recycled juice bottles. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t even afford half of the family’s needs, if they needed the same as some wealthy families in the neighbourhood.
“Good morning, mom,” replied Mike.
Mike had a dream to be a professional football player, but his parents couldn’t afford to send him to a football academy like some other parents of kids in his class do. Lionel Messi was his favourite football player, and Mike knew all the skills of Messi and the way he plays football.
Mike got ready for school, kissed his mother, said goodbye, and took his quarter and set off for school. He was studying in a government school. We all know about the number of bullies in government schools…Mike’s school was no different. Every step of the way, he had to peep over his shoulder to avoid having his lunch money taken, being pushed to the ground, yanked about, or worse…. Mike had a friend called Maddox, who also played football. When he reached school, Maddox was waiting for him in the classroom. Maddox said, “Mike, do you know that football try-outs are next week.”
A spark of hope appeared in Mike’s mind.
He said, “Really?”
Maddox replied, “Yeah. And if you are the best in the try-outs, they will give you a scholarship to the La Masia, which is the football academy where Lionel Messi trained.”
Coach Michael entered the class and said, “Whoever wants to join the football try-outs next week should sign this form.”
Mike, Maddox, and a few other boys excitedly hurried to sign their names on the paper wafted about by Coach. Sam, Mike and Maddox’s bully, was the best at football in the whole class. Sam had a gang which followed him and pushed anyone in the way. As Coach Michael left, Sam and his gang laughed at Mike and Maddox.
“You!” said Sam in his fat voice. “What would you both know about football? You guys don’t even know how to pass out, not to mention pass a football!”
The whole class laughed, not because it was funny, but because they were afraid of Sam.
Mike went home after school ended and told his mother about the try-outs.
“Please pray for me, mom,” said Mike.
“Of course I will, Mike,” said Mike’s mom. “You just try your best. I believe in you. But for now, eat your dinner.”
From that day on, Mike practiced day and night, because God had listened to his prayers and gave him a chance to be a football player. One day, Mike and Maddox went to the football field where they both practiced, and Sam was there practicing with his gang.
Sam said, “Hey, guess who came, the losers!”
The whole gang laughed.
“Shut up, stupid.” Maddox said.
Coach Michael came to the football field and said, “How about a practice match? Sam and his friends versus Mike and rest of the class.”
“Of course I am going to win.” Sam said.
And Sam’s prediction was right. Sam’s team won 13-4 which broke his team’s previous record, 12-3.
Sam and his gang always made fun of Mike and Maddox every day. The pressure was on Mike. He took stress every day until the football try-outs.
On the try-outs day, everyone who signed up was there, and Mike and Sam eyeballed each other. Sam and Mike were equal in everything until the penalties.
Each person got to take 5 penalties and whoever scored the most, won the scholarship. Everyone scored less than 3 until it came Sam’s turn. Sam wore a confident grin. Sam shot all of them into the net except the last one, which was stopped by the goalkeeper.
Coach Michael said to Mike, “You have to shoot all 5 of the penalties to win the scholarship.”
Mike shot the first, second, third, and fourth penalty into the goal. Now came the last penalty. If it is a goal, Mike won, if it wasn’t, then it’s 50-50. “This is it,” Mike thought, “The moment of truth.”
Mike closed his eyes, thought about his parents, and shot the ball with all his might. Sam heard the sound of the net and Coach Michael said, “GOOAAALL!”
Tears of happiness welled up in Mike’s eyes because he hadn’t felt this level of elation in his life before. The children in his class started calling him “The Little Champion”. Because of his hard work and dedication something that was impossible, became possible in his life.