If you want to take part in a big scale corporate sport event – you should work at some big industrial giant. That is what you probably think. And you are wrong. Working at startup-cultured Stylight which is a part of ProSiebenSat.1 group gives you awesome opportunities of that kind.
So when we heard about the upcoming football tournament – we started our preparations. First of all let’s do simple math: What is the chance that a random person plays football. Is it the same as with a guitar? Turns out it’s almost as high: out of approximately 80 available teammates we managed to gather the team of 12 players, which was the minimum amount to be registered for a competition.
To make it happen we formed a scouting team which consisted of our main soccer enthusiasts: Florian and Filippo. Their first success was signing an experienced midfielder Matze and a promising striker Vinay. It also took a couple of days to find the agent of our Egyptian magician Mo and start negotiating for a goalkeeper’s position.
With myself it makes 6 of us and we are ready for our first training. If you live in Munich you probably know that Englischer Garten offers you all kinds of recreational activities: There you can walk, take sunbathes, swim, do yoga, surf and of course play football. For several weeks we introduced a new “routine” in our lives: 1-2 times a week after a working day is over we jump on our bikes and cycle to the Garden, where we already established a training ground between Schwabinger Bach and a couple of trees providing us with a shadow.
We practice some simple drills like rondo or ‘pass and follow’ and then play a couple of small 3v3 games with our bags as goal posts. People feel really engaged so after the first session some of us went to a sports shop and bought new soccer cleats to feel more confident on the grass.
Time goes by as we increase our numbers and form almost a full team, having Damien, Guillaume and Jan by our side. Fil is happy with his new cleats and steps up as a defensive midfielder. More of it we were already discussing goal and assist bonus with our potential joker Vasyl and had an oral agreement from Stefan, who was enjoying Californian sun at that time.
As the tournament was about to be gender mixed, our scouts were doing their best to recruit an ex semi-pro Martina and a couple of other girls who are really good with the ball. Despite all the efforts, they decided to become part of our support team.
Our Director of Football Gerald managed to order the playing kit just in time, so at the day of the tournament “Stylefreunde Sportlight” arrived fully equipped and focused on a nice result. The goal was to fight for 2 promotions in the group of 6 teams.
The starting game was against a team fully consisting of nice sporty ladies. They gave us a good fight but we were not gentlemen this day and scored 3 goals conceding 1. Starting with the win, yay. The second game was a spectacular performance from our BusDev team. Brilliant cross from Damien and Vinay heads it to the net – 1:0. After scoring a second one we slowed down a bit and secured another win. Next match brought us a couple of disappointments. Stefan and me were out due to some tough tackles from the opposition. Matze and Vasyl pulled their quad muscles. And the only conceded goal turned into a defeat for us.
The next game was a decider. If we want to stay in the promoting race we must win. Almost 15 minutes of mutual chances, both teams are quite exhausted on a sunny day, and that is a moment where Filippo takes it all in his feet. He steals the ball in the centre of the pitch, dribbles past a defender and lays it off to Vasyl waiting there to finish the attack with the winning goal. Still in the race!
The last match was against the leader of our group who easily won their first 4 games and was already into the next round. Our suffering from injuries team managed to turn the game into a goalless draw. Time to get some massage from physios and have a lunch break. That was a moment we realized we didn’t promote to quarterfinals. Being on par with another team by the points and goal difference we scored one goal less than them. What a disappointment. But our amazing support team was still cheering for us very actively giving us the power to fight for 9-12th places.
After a lunch break the sun which continued to burn out calories from our bodies and the accumulated fatigue turned the game into another 0-0 draw followed with a penalty shootout. Unfortunately that was a part we haven’t practiced during our training sessions, so no luck this time and we’re about to play for 11-12th places.
By that time Fil injured his ankle and Filippo suffered from the pain in his knee, so it was the moment for Damien to be our leader. Being an experienced runner and athlete he tortured opposition’s defenders with his explosive runs and sharp cuts. Jan showed his best defending skills and Florian was on every part of the pitch. Unfortunately even Filippo’s goal didn’t save us from 1-2 defeat.
It’s almost 6pm, the tournament is almost over, some of us are holding the best sports drinks in their hands and watching the final game. Time to say some words of gratitude and encouragement.
Everyone of us gave everything he could and a bit more! We finished in the first half of all teams, had fun and awesome support and enjoyed playing football. Many of us struggled with some injuries and nevertheless continued playing.
Here is a personal “thank you” to everyone:
Damien – for being the engine of our team! Incredible stamina and being calm and smart on every part of the pitch.
Guillaume – for doing great defense when all the others were out there trying to score.
Jan – for being shockingly good as a left/centre back. Suggest we call you `Jan the Wall` from now on.
Fil – for being that guy who is always there at the right place and ready to help.
Filippo – for being our Messi today: 4 goals, at least 1 assist, a lot of dribbles and Italian temper.
Florian – for being the most aggressive (in a good way) player on the pitch. Always ready to receive and tackle the ball. And thank you for sacrificing playing in attack due to the lack of defenders.
Matze – for playing Modric today. You were the mind of the team. When you have the ball, we can be sure that you won’t lose it and the next decision will be optimal for the team.
Mo – for being our amazing goalie today. If not you – we wouldn’t have finished the 12th!
Stefan – for bringing some nice experience on the pitch and leading the team when we thought that there were no chances.
Vasyl – for being super efficient. At least one winning goal, great decisions on the ball and creating the width in attack.
Vinay – for playing a decent striker. You exhausted opposition’s defenders, scored an awesome header and never stopped pressing.
Gerald – for organizing everything and coming there to support us!
Our magnificent support team – for coming there and cheering for us no matter how good we were.
Waiting for the next year!
Written by Igor Smirnov – Senior Data Scientist at Stylight