Saturday, August 14, 2004

Football and Driving

Football and Driving

After a very tiring week here in Jakarta, I have one day to rest and enjoy Liverpool's first match of the new EPL season. I am not sad about Michael Owen's departure to Real Madrid because I think part of Liverpool's dismal form for the past two season has been due to the fact that the game they play relied too much on him, which in the long run is not healthy for the team. Owen's playing style has also become a bit too predictable for defenders--which was why he didn't make much of an impact in Euro 2004.

To me, a Cisse-Baros partnership is a much more refreshing and exciting one than the Owen-Heskey pairing that we've been so used to in the past. Milan Baros has been a Kop favourite for the past two seasons, but he wasn't given much of a chance by Houllier who somehow thought he wasn't ready yet. Freed finally from an Owen-centric style of play, let's hope the new manager Benitez will have the freedom to bring refreshing changes to Liverpool's game.

I am not as fanatical a football fan as I was when I was a teenager and I don't get a chance to play the game anymore. But while I was driving on the highway a couple of weeks ago in KL, the thought occured to me that my experience in playing football actually helped me a lot as a driver. How?

When you play as striker, you develop a very good positional sense--you are always very aware of where you are in relation to the defenders, the goalkeeper and the goalposts. You are always attempting to elude your opponent, by running into space, by being quicker in anticipating both the flight of the ball and the tackles that are flying in. A good striker instinctively develops a 360 degree view of his surrounding and is extremely alert of all movements.

Safe defensive driving means that you know where all the other cars are on the road in relation to yours--not only the car in front of you but also those behind and on the left and right of you. You know what is the right speed and distance to maintain to anticipate any unexpected movements. You are constantly vigilant, not only of your own driving but also of the other drivers' actions. You are able to predict what they will do and take avoidance action first. All that is computed in real-time instinctively.

These days I try to avoid driving whenever I could; unlike playing football, I don't find driving an enjoyable exercise. To me the thrill of scoring a goal is far greater than roaring down the highway on the Ultimate Driving Machine with a hot chick beside you.

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