Authors: Theo Walcott
About the Book
TJ can’t get enough of football!
But the pupils at Parkview are worried that without anyone to coach them or anywhere to play they’ll never have a proper team.
Then Mr Wood arrives at school and the game starts to look a whole lot more exciting . . .
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: A skilful forward with an outstanding turn of speed. He has an incredibly powerful shot, and he’s good in the air too.
: A strong, powerful striker. When she has the ball at her feet all she thinks about is scoring!
: He’s from Portugal and he doesn’t speak much English, but he’s a wizard with a football in midfield or defence.
: A midfielder who never stops running and tackling. His mazy runs are legendary and he always brings a ball to school!
: When he’s not skateboarding he’s a fearsome tackler in Parkview’s defence.
: A big, strong defender. It’s almost impossible to get past him, but when he clears the ball it could go anywhere.
: He’s not popular, but he’s a terrific defender and Parkview can’t do without him.
: He can play anywhere and do a good job for the team. A really useful squad member.
: He plays in midfield or defence. Always works hard and almost never gives the ball away.
: The team statistician. He dreams about being a footballer, but he’s too nervous to join in training.
‘WHAT DO YOU
think?’ asked Tulsi. ‘Shall we ask him to play?’
‘He’ll get those shiny shoes dirty,’ said Jamie.
For a moment they both looked at the new boy, TJ, who was standing nervously on the edge of the playground. Suddenly Tulsi grinned. ‘Hey, you!’ she yelled. ‘D’you want a game?’
Before he could reply, she put the ball down and hit a beautiful, curving pass towards him. It curled behind the kids from Class 2 and thudded into TJ’s chest.
‘What the . . .?’ TJ looked down at the muddy mark on his clean white shirt, and then he laughed. He bent down and picked up the ball. ‘Here,’ he said, walking towards them. ‘That was amazing! Can you do it again?’
‘Don’t encourage her,’ said Jamie. ‘She already thinks she’s a superstar.’
,’ Tulsi said. ‘I
. I play for a proper team,’ she told TJ. ‘Canby Road Girls. We won the league last season and I scored eleven goals. I’m Tulsi and this is Jamie.’
Jamie was a giant, with spiky, hedgehog hair and the widest smile TJ had ever seen. Another boy ran past and knocked the
out of Tulsi’s hands onto the ground. He dribbled away, weaving in and out of the little kids. ‘That’s Rafi,’ Tulsi laughed. ‘It’s his ball. He doesn’t like standing still.’
‘Do you like football?’ Jamie asked TJ.
‘Well, yeah. But at my last school we just played rounders.’
‘That’s crazy,’ said Tulsi. ‘What kind of rubbish school wouldn’t let you play footie?’
‘It wasn’t a rubbish school,’ TJ said hotly, but Jamie interrupted.
‘Don’t listen to her,’ he said. ‘We can’t play football here either, only on the playground or in the park. And we don’t even play rounders. All the teachers hate PE.’
‘And Mr Burrows dug up the playing field last year,’ Tulsi said gloomily. ‘He said it was going to be a wildlife reserve but then he got ill and no one looked after it. The pond leaked and the trees all died.’ She pointed at a patch of brown grass with a
hole in the middle of it.
‘You must have somewhere to do games and stuff,’ said TJ.
‘We were going to use the park. It’s only down the road. It was all arranged and then something happened and we couldn’t. I don’t know why.’
‘Come on,’ said Jamie when the bell went. ‘I bet you’re in our class. It’s through here.’
‘I’m not sure,’ TJ said. ‘I came with my mum and dad yesterday and Mr Burrows said I was in Mr Wood’s class.’
‘That’s the one,’ Jamie told him. ‘Mr Wood is new too.
haven’t met him yet either.’
‘We’re always having new teachers,’ Rafi said, as he dribbled his ball along the crowded corridor, bouncing it off the walls. ‘None of them can stand it for long.’
‘He’ll take one look and then go home again,’ Tulsi said. She pushed the classroom door open. Everyone was yelling. Two boys
throwing a bag backwards and forwards and another boy was buzzing around them like a small, angry bee, trying to grab it back.
‘Hey, Danny!’ yelled Jamie, striding forward and catching the bag. ‘Leave Rob alone.’
Danny made another grab for the bag, and he and Jamie fell to the floor in a heap, knocking over a couple of chairs. TJ stepped backwards just as Rafi was trying to balance his football on his nose and the ball went bouncing off across the classroom. Suddenly everything went quiet. TJ looked round and saw a tall man in a suit standing in the middle of the classroom. He looked down at the bouncing ball.
‘I suppose this is how you got rid of all those teachers last year,’ the man said finally. ‘Well, you won’t get rid of me so easily. Who does this ball belong to?’
‘Me,’ said Rafi. ‘I’m Rafi.’
‘I’m pleased to meet you, Rafi. I’m Mr Wood, and your ball control is terrible. I’ll look after this until it improves, I think.’
Mr Wood put his foot on the ball, and then suddenly it was in his hands. It was like magic.
‘But, sir,’ said Rafi. ‘It’s the only ball we’ve got.’
‘Tough. Like I say, you should learn to control it. Now, if these two clowns who are rolling around on the floor will get up, maybe we can get on with some work.’
‘I HATE HIM,’
said Tulsi in the playground after lunch.
‘He’s the scariest teacher we’ve ever had,’ Jamie said.
‘He’s mean,’ grumbled Rafi. ‘He stole my ball.’
‘Yeah, but he’s right, isn’t he?’ Tulsi said. ‘You can’t control it. And now we’ve got nothing to play with.’
‘Maybe you should try bringing your own ball sometimes,’ Rafi replied angrily.
‘Stop arguing, you two,’ said Jamie. ‘We can play with this fir cone. Me and TJ against you and Rafi. Here, TJ.’
The fir cone bobbled over the tarmac. TJ kicked it, and it went spinning off across the playground. They all ran after it, dodging between the other kids. TJ reached the wall where the cone had stopped. He turned round, laughing. The others were still plodding towards him. The small boy, Rob, was following behind them with a notebook in his hand.
‘How did you get to be that quick?’ asked Tulsi.
‘Dunno,’ said TJ. ‘Look out. Here comes Mr Wood.’
‘Stand on that cone,’ Jamie hissed. ‘We’re not supposed to play with them.’
TJ put his foot on the cone as Mr Wood approached. ‘So, what are you lot up to now?’ he asked.
‘Nothing, Mr Wood,’ Rafi said.
The teacher looked at them for a moment or two, then he brought out Rafi’s football
behind his back. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I wouldn’t want you to get into trouble for playing with fir cones, and your ball control isn’t going to improve if you don’t practise, is it?’
They all shook their heads. Mr Wood looked around at the crowded playground and the brown grass with the dead trees.
‘There’s not much room to play, is there?’ he said. ‘Where do you do PE?’
‘We don’t,’ Tulsi said. ‘Not since Mr Potter left, and even then it was rubb—’ She stopped, embarrassed.
‘I get the picture,’ Mr Wood said. He looked at the grass again and shook his head. ‘Listen, I’ll tell the Midday Supervisors to keep the little ones off this part of the playground. You could use that bit of wall as a goal.’