Round Four – The Gang

“Welcome back! We are about to start the second half of our football (soccer) championship game between Visitors and Home. For those who have missed the first half, the score is one to nothing for Home, with the ball hitting the net just before going to the locker rooms. The weather is nice, sunny and warm, making this a lovely day with a family, here at a national stadium. After few minutes rest players are now returning to the pitch. Coaches grouped the players to share some last-minute tactics before the referee will blow the whistle and the second half of the game will start. As all of you know, it’s a game of two halve, therefore still much can happen.

And there it is! The referee started the second half. The Visitors are not wasting any minutes, knowing they are playing not only against Home team but whole crowd who is screaming and cheering for their players. Everyone knows that with this kind of support you can move mountains. The Visitors can feel that pressure coming from tribunes hence they need to score a goal until they will not run out of motivation. As with each minute passing by this game will be more and more difficult for them.

Nice cross by the one visitors trying to reach Tymek. The ball slightly misses him and he needs to catch the pass. Oh no! Quick slide done by Boldy and the Home is back in control. Long pass to Szymon, what nice tackle, he passes one player, two more, and there is only him and the goal keeper left! Will he manage to score? What a suspense. Crowd is getting louder while Szymon stopped for a split of a second, looked into goal keeper’s eyes, twisted his lips into adorable, disarming smile and shoots! Gooooalll!!!! Did you see it?!?! He puts the ball in the net! The goalkeeper just stood there and could not do anything about it! The game barely started and Home managed to score another goal!

2-0 may for some may look like the game is over, but let’s not lose hope. There is still time for at least one goal for the Visitors. One that will raise them from their knees and put back into the game. Visitor’s goalkeeper kicked the ball. Cross went to midfielder, he started his run, passing two defenders. Oh, I think we will have a chance to see a goal for Visitors. The midfielder passed the ball to the attacker. He allowed the ball to pass him. He followed the ball with his eyes while turning around and when the ball was in the perfect position, he hit it with full strength. “Yes?!?…Yeess?!??…Oh nooo!!! What a save!!! Have you seen it?!?! The goalkeeper jumped to the ball, that was heading toward upper right corner and with just a split of the finger he managed to push it away from the goal. The referee whistled and we are going to have a corner. Both teams are battling in the Home’s penalty area trying to win best spot to score or defend the goal. The whistle blown by the referee and the ball is heading straight to the center of the penalty area. All the players are in the air trying to reach the ball with their heads. Yes?!?Yeees?!?! The ball is heading towards the net, kicked by one of the players from the Visitor’s team. Oh no!! how much bad luck you can have in one game?! Everyone saw this ball heading straight to the net, but it took this strange turn just at the end and hit the woodwork! The crossbar is what they need to satisfy with! “

“Don’t stop… never stop…” Voice whispered in my head. ” Please, if this is how our life will look from now on, let it be, but make it last. Last as long as it can be… I want to see him running, laughing, having fun with other children… There is nothing more pleasing to my heart than his happiness… It spreads warmth into my whole body and puts huge smile on my face. I know it may mean that he will not have a chance to live a normal life, like any other kid, but please at least give me those kind of moments… They help me to forget, forget where we are…”

The Gang – bunch of kids, different age, from 2 to 14 years old running around in small groups. They were making lots of noise but no one dare to reprimand them, silence them, as this was what kept this place alive. This was breath of fresh air, which this place gained each time The Gang met. And you could see that for some kids, like Szymon, not having a chance to play with peers, as it was too risky to go to kindergarten or school where you could get deadly infections, the gang was the reason why they smiled on to the way to the facility. The smile, which was healing our bruised hearts from consciousness that we need to bring him back there. To the last place on earth you would like to drive your child too.

The Gang did not have a leader, but Boldy being the oldest was having the highest authority in the team. Szymon, who was treated like his younger brother, were given much more attention and sympathy. This gave me peace in my heart that even if I lose sight of him Boldy will take care of Szymek. Even corporals when they saw those kinds playing, showed sparks of joy in their eyes. They were sometimes yelling to slow down, walk, don’t run, but it was only to keep them safe. They knew that some kinds should not force their heart so much, due recent chemo injection, which still might be weakening their body. “…I beg You! Don’t take this away from me…. don’t take him away from me…”

 “10 minutes to the end of the match. The Home team is in possession of the ball. There is not much time left, there is always not much time. Let’s see what they can do! Short pass and the ball is going to Kacper, who passes to Maks. Just look how he sprints with the ball! He is running towards the goal, slows down trying to catch a breath, looks around and sees Szymon running on his right. One tackle, and two more defenders ahead of him. “Here! Here!!!” He could hear Szymon screaming on his right. One more tackle and Maks and Szymon are left with the goalkeeper. Maks looked at Szymon and though, “He is younger, I will give him this satisfaction to score another goal.” He passed the ball to Szymon, who did a quick slide to reach it, stood up and shoots… Goooallll!!! GOAAAALL!!!! Everybody screams, everybody smiles. “What a day!” Stated the commentator. “3-0 to Home. With only five minutes till the end of the game nothing will take away their victory, nothing will take away this joy of winning the game. They are almost there!”

“Boldy! Boldy!” familiar voice yelled from the crowd. “Come on, your meds are ready! I need to hook you up.” It was one of the corporals ending the game. “Ehh” Boldy turned around and headed towards the corporal knowing that there is nothing else but just to end the game 5 minutes before. “Just 5 minutes?” He asked with high hopes in his heart. “Ok, I am waiting for you in your room. But just 5 minutes, as I will be late with the others!” Corporal responded with a smile on her face. She also knew that nothing bad will happen if she will delay the meds by 5 minutes but lots of good will come out from them playing a little longer.

Those corridors have magical power of changing to whatever those kids have in their minds, could imagine. One day they are football pitch, the other racing tracks. Those little bold heads running, screaming, laughing made this place much sunnier, less gloomy. And seeing Szymek playing with them, sharing the joy of being among other kids, made my heart swell with happiness.

“Please stay tuned, as next week we will host for you last race of the season. Find out who will go home with the World Champion title and who will just have to settle for a second place!”

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