When you kick on a muddy field, the ball can't go far. Ehud Olmert, a soccer fan, knows this too. That's why, because he is being kicked, he is being defensive, hunkering down, and is determined not to sink in a puddle.
From quality soccer like that of Euro 2008, we can learn a great deal about life. When I was 6 years old, I learned names of countries and cities from it. I stood at the gates of the Maccabi Rehovot soccer field, pulled on grown-ups' sleeves (then it was still allowed to befriend them) and begged them - take me inside, take me inside - and in that way I was able to enter an entire world. There they said about the halfback Moshe Litvak that he played as if he were in Brazil, so I went home and asked where Brazil was.
I wanted to be Litvak, so I started to play. I added understanding to my pain. As a skinny and bespectacled boy it was easy to beat me up. I learned other things from my experience - to sit on the bench, to see entire games with eager eyes, but I did not really get used to it. I sometimes would get up angrily and promise not to come back, but I returned with my tail between my legs. All my life, I had problems with coaches who put me in my place by making me sit down. And I learned to miss 100 percent chances - how could you miss that, idiot, when the goal was empty?
And I learned to lose even though I was much better, of course, and it was only my bad luck that made me lose. And I learned to bounce back immediately, because every game is a new game, as we all know, and every victory makes us forget the loss, until the next time we lose. One time, I shared this lesson with Ehud Barak - he didn't know what I wanted from him because he had never lost, he only wins - this week, too, another one of those victories.
When did I realize that I was on the left wing? When I didn't always cheer for "our team"? They diagnosed some affinity for the underdog, a kind of deviation. In those bygone days, Israel was the underdog, and it was clear that I supported it. Not that soccer has advanced here since then - it has gone the other way - but today we are stronger in training than in battle. Even before the opening whistle for the preliminaries to the World Cup, we already beat Switzerland and Greece, whom we have seen in the past month with their shortage of expertise (and analysts say with their short feet). And in another year we will once again ask how did we miss, idiots, when the net was empty, and how did we let them score such a pathetic goal during injury-and-fatality time when there were wounded and dead?
Yes, all these analysts who give so many bits of advice. The managers of Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva and Ashdod - those capitals of soccer - analyze and correct the mistakes of Italy and France. They too are generals and experts for the next war, after losing the last war. Please don't think of me as a frustrated player. I have had my career, during which I tended the goal of the Knesset team. I was once a boy and now I am old, but I did not hang up my big shoes; we continued to lose. One day, before a game on live TV, I was called again to the flag (and analysts say to my feet), but I decided to resign; let the youngsters play.
I asked Olmert, the forward, if he too was resigning. Are you crazy? he replied. They'll take me off only on a stretcher.
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