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Text: Gerard van Gemert / Illustrations: Mark Janssen The Soccer Rascals – "Your name"’s Team of Animals © 2014 Clavis Uitgeverij, Hasselt – Amsterdam – New York Trefw.: voetbal, diversiteit, dieren NUR 273 ISBN 978 90 448 2110 9 D/2013/4124/208 Alle rechten voorbehouden.

Gerard van Gemert

Mark Janssen


The players of "NAME OF YOUR FAVOURITE SOCCER TEAM" are invited to the zoo for the birthday of "Your name". They all come from a different country. That’s what makes it even more fun. They are getting a bit impatient because they have to wait in line for a while before they can enter. ‘I know something fun,’ says Ferry, their coach. ‘Think of an animal we’re going to see that comes from the same country as you.’

‘A kangaroo,’ Jason immediately calls. He’s from Australia. "Name of the co star" knows one too. ‘In Mexico there live coatis,’ he says. ‘Co-what?’ "Your name" asks. ‘Coatis,’ "Name of the co star" laughs. ‘They look like raccoons.’

‘They probably won’t live in the zoo,’ Ferry says. ‘Too bad,’ "Name of the co star" says disappointed. ‘There are no animals that come from the same country as me,’ "Your name" mumbles. ‘Now that’s a good idea,’ Ferry says. ‘We’ll go looking for an animal that comes from the same country as you.’

‘We have a lot of fish in Morocco,’ Sami says. ‘Delicious.’ Heiko laughs. ‘We weren’t talking about which animal you like to eat!’ ‘Oh,’ Sami says. He feels a bit silly. ‘I actually can’t think of an animal that comes from Germany either,’ Heiko says. ‘Except for Pasja then.’

‘Pasja?’ Dave asks, he speaks with an German accent. ‘What’s a pasja?’ ‘Pasja is our cat,’ Heiko answers.

‘Wait, I’ll think of another game,’ Ferry says. He sees the boys are having a hard time with this one. ‘Soccer,’ "Your name" says. And he puts the ball above his head. ‘We’ll do that at the end of the day,’ Ferry says. ‘At the small field near the pond. Until then with each animal we see, we’ll think of what sort of player it would be on the soccer field.’ ‘Yeah!’ "Your name" calls. ‘That’s cool. Then I can keep looking for an animal too.’ ‘I would love to play against a team of animals,’ Sami says. ‘That would be a piece of cake.’

‘Does a lion come from your country?’ Ferry asks. ‘No,’ "Your name" answers. ‘I never ran into one at the woods.’ ‘What kind of player would a lion be?’ Ferry asks. ‘Would he be a defender, midfield player or striker?’ ‘He would be a very good attacker because he’s so fast,’ Jason thinks. ‘No way,’ "Name of the co star" says. ‘A leopard or a cheetah, now those are fast animals.’ ‘A goalkeeper,’ Gilles says. ‘Because the lion reacts like a cat.’ ‘This one doesn’t look like a cat at all,’ Jason says.

‘I thought he looked like a midfield player,’ Dave says. ‘Because I think a lion can be a striker as well as a defender.’ ‘That’s possible,’ Ferry says. ‘But you have to make a choice.’ ‘I’ll chose a defender,’ Dave says. ‘Because now I see how lazy they are, we can easily pass them. Then we’ll always win.’ ‘That’s a good idea,’ Sami says. ‘Then I’ll be the top scorer of the competition. ‘Okay,’ Ferry says. ‘Close your eyes everyone. Then I’ll tell you how a lion acts as a defender of a soccer team.’

‘A lion would be an excellent defender,’ Ferry explains. ‘He would be lazing around near the penalty area, like these lions here. But when the striker comes closer with the ball and is right near him, he would roar. This would shock the strikers so much they wouldn’t dare to come near him the rest of the game. And then you’ll never score, and you would never win.’

‘That’s no fun either,’ Sami grumbles. ‘Well, I don’t want a lion as an opponent.’ "Name of the co star" agrees. ‘He would only give us a fright.’ ‘Look,’ Ferry says. ‘There are the giraffes. Are they from your country, "Your name"?’ "Your name" shakes his head. ‘I have never seen them walking around.’ ‘What would giraffes be good at?’ Ferry asks. ‘They’re not good at anything,’ Jason says. Heiko smiles. ‘Correct. With those long, lanky legs and that neck they could never play soccer of course.’

‘He couldn’t be a goalkeeper either,’ Gilles says. ‘Because he doesn’t fit in the goal.’ ‘You have to be able to turn quickly as a midfield player,’ Dave thinks. ‘ And he can’t do that.’ Ferry thinks this is rather fun. ‘Where would he have to be then?’ ‘In the forward line,’ Gilles says. ‘Then I can sit and relax and no ball would ever come my way.’ ‘Does everyone agree with that?’ Ferry asks. Most of them nod. ‘Nice,’ Ferry says. ‘Now close your eyes again to know what it would look like.’

‘A giraffe would be perfect in the forward line,’ Ferry starts. ‘You would only have to throw him the ball very high before the goal and he would always be able to catch it. His long neck makes sure he can put his head against the ball in every situation.’

‘However high you would be jumping as a defender, you would never be able to reach him. And the worst part is,’ Ferry continues, ‘you could never give him a shoulder charge, because his shoulder is far too high. A giraffe could also be a top scorer because he heads all the cross passes in the goal.’

‘If there were a giraffe in the forward line, I would climb his legs,’ Jason says. ‘Or you could tickle him under his feet,’ Dave thinks. ‘Then his head would be bobbing so much from laughing that he wouldn’t be able to head.’ ‘What are those animals?’ Ferry now asks. ‘Elephants of course,’ "Name of the co star" says.

‘And did you ever see those in your country?’ Ferry asks. "Your name" thinks. ‘No, I have never seen one walking through our street. And they really are too heavy to be able to play soccer.’ ‘Yeah sure, if you play a ball to an elephant, it would probably take him an hour to control it,’ Heiko says. ‘Just like you,’ Sami laughs. ‘So an elephant could never be a player in the field,’ Ferry says. ‘What can he do?’ ‘We’ll put him in the goal,’ "Your name" says. ‘Everyone can be a goalkeeper.’

‘Hey,’ Gilles says insulted. ‘Being in goal is harder than you think.’ ‘But scoring with an elephant in the goal is a piece of cake,’ "Your name" says. ‘You only have to aim for the goal, because he surely reacts way too slowly.’ ‘Okay,’ Ferry says. ‘We’ll put the elephant in the goal. Now close your eyes.’

‘All you have to do is score, "Name of the co star",’ Ferry says. ‘The elephant’s reaction will be too slow anyway.’ ‘That’s not fair,’ "Name of the co star" grumbles. ‘I could never score like this, of course.’ ‘The elephant would be an excellent keeper. He is big and leaves little room in the goal for the ball to go through.’

‘He just wouldn’t be good in leaving his goal, because he is too slow for that,’ "Your name" says. ‘That’s not necessary,’ Gilles says. ‘Because you could never get the ball in, since he is taking up the entire goal.’ ‘Exactly,’ Ferry says. ‘And with his powerful trunk he can knock the ball so far away it would land on the other side of the field.’ ‘I hate elephants,’ "Name of the co star" grumbles.

‘It would be a rather difficult game if we were to play soccer against animals,’ Sami says. ‘Of course not,’ "Name of the co star" says. ‘No animal in the world would be a better soccer player than I am.’ Ferry laughs. ‘And where would you put the zebra?’ he asks. ‘He certainly has the prettiest shirt of all the animals we’ve seen,’ "Your name" chuckles. ‘Too bad he isn’t wearing any shorts,’ Dave laughs.

‘And does the zebra come from your country?’ Ferry asks "Your name" shakes his head despondently. ‘No, I’ve never seen him in a meadow. I did see regular horses,’ he says with a sigh. ‘They look like small horses, but with a zebra crossing on their backs,’ Gilles thinks. ‘I would put the zebra in midfield,’ Jason says.

‘Me too,’ "Name of the co star" agrees with him. ‘Because then we would play all the ball through the air and he would never be able to reach them.’ ‘Exactly,’ Heiko laughs. ‘The zebra would be an excellent midfield player … if he were playing in the opposing team.’ ‘Perfect,’ Ferry says. ‘The zebra is our midfield player. Close your eyes.’

‘A zebra can run really fast and has lots of stamina,’ Ferry starts. ‘So when we get tired, he can still run.’ ‘That’s not fair. He has four paws,’ Jason calls. ‘I would win too if I had four legs.’ Ferry shrugs. ‘You wanted him in midfield.’ ‘We can play the ball between his four paws,’ Sami laughs. ‘If we would ever get the ball,’ Dave grumbles, ‘because he is way too fast for us.’

‘We would need to practice more to be in good shape,’ Heiko says. ‘So we can keep going as long as the zebra.’ ‘Forget it,’ "Name of the co star" says. ‘I would have chosen athletics instead of soccer.’ ‘Maybe you’re better at that?’ Gilles jokes. ‘Not at all,’ "Name of the co star" says. ‘I am a much better soccer player than a zebra.’

‘And which animal would you prefer to have in your own team?’ Ferry asks. ‘The elephant,’ Dave says. ‘Then we would never concede a goal again.’ ‘Or the lion, because then no one would ever come near our goal again,’ Gilles says. ‘And then I wouldn’t be getting any goals either.’ ‘The zebra,’ Jason says. ‘He would take care of the defense in midfield. So I would only have to worry about striking.

‘For me the giraffe,’ Sami says. ‘Then I’ll swing the ball high before the goal and he heads them all in. Then every cross is a good cross.’ ‘I don’t need an animal,’ "Your name" says. ‘There just aren’t any animals from my country.’ ‘Look at the sign next to "Name of the co star",’ Ferry says. ‘What does it say?’ ‘The beaver,’ "Your name" reads out loud, ‘is an animal that is well known all over the world.’ ‘A beaver?’ Gilles says. ‘I don’t need him in my team. It will just gnaw down the goal posts.’ ‘I don’t need an animal in my team either,’ "Name of the co star" says. ‘There’s no animal that would make our team better. We are simply the best.’ ‘Is that so?’ Ferry says. ‘So you’ve never lost?’ "Name of the co star" thinks. ‘We did, but never from an animal.’

‘Hey, what’s happening?’ "Name of the co star" calls. ‘That monkey is quicker and better than you,’ Sami laughs. ‘I thought no animal could win from you?’ Dave asks. ‘But this monkey just takes the ball from you,’ Jason says. ‘Maybe we need to ask him if he wants to join our team,’ Heiko says.

‘Yes, he could play in the defense, midfield and in the forward line,’ "Your name" says. ‘But he’s too small to stand in goal,’ Gilles thinks. ‘Although, he does have long arms.’ ‘I think he can join us,’ "Name of the co star" says. ‘A monkey is better at soccer than you think.’ ‘There you go,’ Ferry decides laughing. ‘You should never assume beforehand that an opponent plays worse than you.’

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Team of animals  
Team of animals