Celebrating from the bench: that’s the true test of a team player

2012-09-08 00:00

ANY sporting team manager will tell you that the bench is a vital part of any team. As the match wears on, the superstars who have been entrusted with securing the desired result may tire, at which point the benchwarmer will be called upon.

In some instances, once the desired result has already been secured, the benchwarmer will be given a run for the sole reason of giving the superstar a well-deserved rest. And on the odd occasion, perhaps when a less important match takes place, the benchwarmer may even find himself in the starting line-up. But whichever way you look at it, sitting on the bench is never fun.

Cesc Fabregas is said to be unhappy at Barcelona, the club of his boyhood dreams. He has battled to break into the starting line-up since joining from Arsenal in 2011 and has been used as a substitute regularly. Even though he is an integral part of what is considered by many to be the best club football team in the world, Fabregas isn’t satisfied.

I can relate.

I am proud to be part of an elite group — Pietermaritzburg’s Fine Young Casuals. Our beat? Monday night quiz night at Quincy’s. A group of about five of us get together once a week and put our combined general knowledge to the test against some of the city’s most scarily informed minds. Needless to say, the Fine Young Casuals have not threatened the league’s best.

Instead, we are a team with grit, determination and passion — all of the things needed to win a good old relegation scuffle. And, unashamedly, somewhere near the bottom of the log is where we find ourselves more often than not.

That was until this past Monday, when a new signing transformed a group of puzzlers into serious title contenders. Well, we came fifth. Or sixth. But it was certainly our best performance of the season.

As great as this was, the feeling was bitter-sweet.

In a team that was suddenly on the verge of achieving something great, I felt out of my depth. We had a new superstar among us, and I could feel my value to the team diminishing. And as thrilled as I was that the Fine Young Casuals had lifted themselves off the foot of the table, I knew that it was in no part due to my contribution. But we are a team, and what we achieve we achieve together — or so I’m told.

But it does make one think. Just how satisfying is it winning something when you know that it was the work of others that brought about the glory? Does the benchwarmer really feel the same sense of achievement as the superstar who single-handedly blew away the opposition? I suppose that if he does, then he is the true definition of a team player.

But as the Fine Young Casuals continue in their quest for quiz glory, I will keep in mind that if we ever do take away the coveted winner’s trophy — a case of beers and a full chicken — I am likely to be doing my celebrating from the bench.

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