Alright!! First practice match of the newbies on the youth team and I’m excited to see how this group works together! Or rather, how quickly they all go from being friends to trying to one-up each other.
Before the match even starts, we have to address Coach Nozomi’s comments from the previous episode. There was a declaration that Aoi would never go pro, but he had nothing to back it up before Hana interrupted him to declare that she is his fan. And while I love Hana’s support of Aoi, I’m glad that we get to see other perspectives of his play style. He’s good and he makes really good plays. But when it comes to being conscious of the other players and their intentions, he fails miserably. He’s playing a team sport where he wants the spotlight, so this whole episode is really a big jab to his ego…. and honestly, I’m a little afraid of how he’s going take this match once it’s over. Aoi people don’t hate you, you’re just not particularly good at the team aspect…
So, the beginning of the match was really interesting! You have everyone fighting for a (nonexistent) spot on the A team, so everyone is trying to prove their worth right off the bat. We know Togashi’s not the biggest fan of the promoted players so he quickly shoves Kuroda aside in order to take a shot from far down the field. Honestly, a very dick move in my opinion. And Aoi even calls him out on it saying that a defender should do their job. And in that moment, I agreed with Aoi! Again, soccer is a team sport so constantly fighting for the spotlight doesn’t help the team in the slightest. Plus, I think someone did need to call out the behavior of just shoving a teammate. I get that you don’t like them, but you are going to need to learn how to work with them.
But naturally, Aoi then slips right into his mindset of being the one to make all the shots and get all the points. And the very first play he does? Very cool, incredible, stunning. Those around him become impressed with this skill and start relying on him to score points in the future. Only… he can’t replicate what he just did… the other team is improving and able to read his moves, and he can’t even put what he did into words. From an outside perspective it almost looks like his goal was a fluke regardless of how cool it was. Aoi struggles to change with the game. He’s so focused on himself that he doesn’t consider the players around him because he believes their roll is just getting him the ball and helping him score. So, inevitably he no longer becomes a reliable teammate. (But you could also argue that he’s reliable in the sense that he’s keeping the one guarding him busy).
Sorry, Aoi. Your current playstyle isn’t conducive to working effectively with others. Yes, you’ve learned lots of cool tricks with your old team and they supported you wholeheartedly! But the dynamic was different. In your middle school team, they trusted who fully and their goal really was just to get the ball to you. Now on the youth team it’s more so to ‘outplay’ the other team. They can’t just rely on one player breaking through and getting all the points. You’ve showed them your hand and now they are responding to you. Everyone on the field is adapting, growing, and learning – some may be struggling to keep up (mainly the non-promoted players), but they aren’t actively trying to be in the spotlight like you are. Who knows maybe next week we’ll find that they were all trying to do it in their own way? And that’s fair! A spot on the A-team is on the line!!
I just don’t want Aoi to leave this match feeling like people don’t like him or think that he’s a bad player. And maybe at the core, he is a bad player for the team dynamic. But I hope that he learns to understand that there’s really a time and place for everything and he has a lot more to learn before he can truly keep up with the rest of them. Yeah! It sucks that the team isn’t even passing to you anymore, but at this point…. after so many missed opportunities, they need to try a different strategy and they are all aware that in your current state you are not going to help with that strategy.
I really want to know how all of this plays out. I wonder if he will try to fight back against the team or if he will become dejected like he did during tryouts. I know that desire to win for everyone back home is strong, but everyone else is here trying their hardest as well!! Please, trust your teammates! They have your back, but you all need to learn to get along and trust each other. Truthfully, there’s a lot of work to be done.