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April 24, 2006 | by  | in Features |
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University Games: The Inside Story

I got a call from my inside man the other week. I was in. They had let me in to find out the goings on of the Uni Games soccer squads, so I was able to report this to Salient. This had been the plan ever since I saw that BBC documentary where that guy went undercover into Chelsea and revealed that idiots support Chelsea. And plus, I had been part of the secret Uni Games Soccer society in the past – all the way back in 2004 – so I had inside knowledge. No one would suspect a thing.

After all, there is a reputation to live up to when you go to Uni Games. One student a few years back, for example, got so drunk that he wandered into the house across the road from the one he was meant to be staying in, comaed and then threw up into a bed he found himself in – and then somehow managed to score a free cooked breakfast from the startled old lady the next morning. 2004 was a black hole in my memory – the UniGames in Dunedin were a ghastly scene of drunkenness and debauchery. Oh, they were good times. There were the best of times. The Victoria soccer team, in spite being a rag-tag bunch of miscreants, managed to come 4th out of twelve, kissing our medal chances goodbye by drinking half a keg by the time our 3rd/4th place play-off came to a close.

So this year it was all go. I knew I had to try and relive the past glories, or there won’t be a new generation understanding the significance of drinking and sport. But things were different. We were practising. And not just once, but like, five times or more. I only turned up to two. So I casually mentioned at the first one I went to, “how about a keg?” No answer. What’s going on? Is this the tradition that others have drunk so hard to create? The practises were full on too – which is weird because the guy running it, Matt, was part of the legendary drunken 2004 trip. I was about to sit there and reminisce with him, when he ordered us to do four laps around the field. FOUR?! What happened Matt? What happened? I don’t use the word traitor often, but I should.

He made it all up by chucking a couple of hundred bucks on a bar tab at the Big Kumara. The Big K, by the way, had the temerity to refuse to accept a $30 bar tab I had, because “it had expired”. There wasn’t even an expiry date on there. If I hadn’t got that tab for free, forgotten about it for months, and actually had no reason to hangout with the first years that drink there then I might have complained. Well I did complain, but you know, it would have been pointless.

So anyway, back to the sport. We practised and the team seemed pretty good – though I already play, or have played with half the team anyway – but that’s not the point. We shouldn’t have been practising, we should have been drinking. The 1st Team were looking pretty solid too – in fact as I write (note this is Thursday because of our production deadline) they have made their way into the final.

I casually make my way into the 2nd team, which suits me fine. We have an ex-army guy, “Finn”, as our captain who has the habit of calling me Brae. This lasted a while until he started calling me Sultana Bran, but I suppose we are calling him after a piece of fish cartilage. He had a voice on him, so I wondered if he was ever trained in covert operations. But he was a good dude and had some potent fixy-up-rubbing-shit that meant my penis was a no-go area for my fingers for a while. The rest of the team are a bunch of good guys too – surely, surely, I’d be able to convince them to get a keg. We need keg-stands people. Keg-stands. So I ask them before our first game. No answer. I have never felt so uncool, and trust me, that’s a pretty hard achievement.

Our first game was up against former Polytech, Massey Wellington. They were pretty good, but we played like shite. Shite. So shite in fact, that it could drive a man to drink. I suggested that we do indeed have a drink, but all I got were a few murmurs about how uncool it is for an uncool person to talk about drinking. Either that or they said yes, but I’m not going to try and disprove my own thesis.

The Rolling Stones were great but the conservative 60 year old spectators had clearly forgotten that it’s ok for other people to dance and sing. To use this digression as a segueway, I didn’t go to the Opening Ceremony because of the concert. But I bet no-one went to the Opening Ceremony, because no-one likes drinking (actually Kenny – good man – went, but he was alone). We lost that game 4-0 (which included an own-goal by the aforementioned Kenny, followed by an excellent scream of “FUCK”. He didn’t even get a yellow card). Now if I was to blame anything on that loss – and I will – we had our formation all wrong. But no-one really cares about the nitty-gritty tactical aspects of Uni Games competition, they want stories about drinking. Our second game was against Massey Palmerston. The stunning form-reversal saw a tense and nail-biting 0-0 draw. Man, our crowd of one was riveted. It was actually a pretty good game and we played pretty well. We still hadn’t scored a goal though, outside of Kenny’s fleet-footed effort. Our ref also set new standards in pedanticism – he asked us all to tuck in our shirts because we were professional players. Professional? We paid to take part.

I tried the keg call once more. Nope. But to balance things up, we went drinking. Hurrah! But most of the guys didn’t last too long – with the exception of a few guys from our team (Kenny and Greg – good men) and a few from the firsts. (Good men as well – Brady and that other guy whose name I can’t remember, but who looks like a guy I used to go to school with, but can’t be the guy I went to school with because he works in Norfolk Island at the moment.) And aside from Mel from the girls team, no other member from the girls team even showed up. I’m glad you lost as a result, even if statistics have shown no correlation between drinking and winning (George Best excepted).

We still had an outside chance of qualifying for the semi finals. We had to beat Auckland, the top team in our pool, who had thrashed the other two teams we played. So chances weren’t looking good. But we did win – 1-0 against a bunch of whining, stuck-up, prima donnas. The guy I was marking kept on complaining to the referee about me whacking him with my shoulder. I was using my elbows you fucking idiot. But they had totally underestimated us, and there’s nothing like beating a bunch of arrogant twats. That should have been a sign for us to get drunk. Nope – not even then. We then missed out on the semis on goal-difference. Former Polytech Massey Wellington had a slightly better goal difference than us. Damn. Then the organisers got fucking weird. We came third in our pool. We were going to play former Polytech Massey Wellington’s 2nd team to qualify for a place in the 5th/6th playoff. What made it weird was that Massey Palmerston who were lower than us automatically qualified for that playoff.

Huh? Nevertheless we beat former Polytech Massey Wellington’s second side 2-1. The other team were all from the Asian continent – they didn’t speak English during the game at all, except to tell someone in our team to “go fuck themselves.” Ahhh “fuck” – it crosses all the barriers of language. We have no idea what’s going to go on tomorrow. But we have had a pretty solid record of 2 wins, a draw and a loss in two days of competition. Time for keg? Nope. Nothing. Clearly, the tradition is dead. No longer will the fineries of competition be married to the excessive consumption of alcohol. No longer will after-match stories of inebriation and regurgitation be lovingly exaggerated and passed on to future generations. What have we become?

On an unrelated note, the rest of the team are going out drinking tonight, but I can’t go because I’m writing this account of my undercover mission. (Ed- Quit whining Brannavan, who left the office at quarter to nine, after 3 hours of work. What are you, Nicola?)

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About the Author ()

Brannavan Gnanalingam has come a long way from being born in the teeming metropolis of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He may be known as feature writer for Salient, but is also the only man in history to have simultaneously donated both his kidneys. He is also an amateur rapper going under the moniker Brantank and hopes to win a Grammy.

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