Benny Sip


When I Was Capable Of Anything

When I was a kid, I believed I was capable of anything.

I remember at the age of seven sitting in mile high stands thinking that I could play with them. In fact, I thought, knew deep down, that I was better than them. The then Colorado Rapids that is: Marcello Balboa, Chris Henderson, Adrian Paz, Marcus Hahnemann. My childhood heroes. Yes, I could play with them in Mile High Stadium, at the age of seven. 

I was one irrational kid. Or perhaps, still childlike enough not to know what I was or was not capable of. Of course, I could not have played with them. But is not that the beauty of being a child? Not knowing one’s limitations. Not seeing a ceiling above. Believing that one is capable of it all. 

I pretended to be Hahnemann long before he starred in the Premier League. I would deflect my father's shots, here, there and everywhere, over the fence into the neighbours yard, wide of the posts into the garden. Hahnemann was unreal. I loved the goalkeeper position because of him. Our neighbour even sort of resembled him, which I thought made him cool. “Marcus Hahnemann's look - a - like lives in our backyard!” I would tell people. Funny the things you remember from being a kid. And not to forget the bicycle kicking mustachio'd Marcelo Balboa. He was really the man. His poster hung on my wall for years. My mom loved his long flowing black hair. I did too.

Nearly every weekend my family and friends would pile into our red Mercury Villager and drive the one hour from Fort Collins to Denver to watch the Rapids play. After the ninety minutes were up the players would stick around for autographs. My friends and I would run down to the locker room entrance, reaching our tiny hands over the railings, handing the players all sorts of things, boots (we called them cleats!), shirts, green and white Mitre footballs, anything. These guys were our idols and we would stay for however long it took just so that we could hand them something, let alone look into their eyes, touch their hands or have them say something to us. It was good of them to stick around for us kids. Heroes were not in short supply to children growing up in Colorado at the time. The Broncos were Super Bowl Champs and the Avalanche, Stanley Cup. My other childhood heroes included: John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic, and Patrick Roy. But, I worshipped the Rapids. 

I remember the Rapids held a camp in Fort Collins where the players, Balboa, Hahnemann, Paz, Henderson and others ran little skills stations. You know, dribbling, juggling, small sided games. For the players it must have felt like an obligation, glorified baby sitting, something written into their contracts that they had to do. Running stupid soccer camps in Fort Collins. It was likely a long day's work which they would have been glad to miss. But I remember trying my little fucking ass off for those guys. I literally thought that if I played well enough in one of those camps, or showed my best in one of those skills stations, that they might just notice me enough and pick me for the team. I would not have even known that there was a coaching staff. I would have been happy enough if one of the players brought me straight back to Denver with the team and stuck me on the bench for the next match against the Dallas Burn or Kansas City Wizards. I must have been seven or eight years old. Completely irrational, just childlike enough. 

And then, I lost it. That thought. That deep down knowing. That magical fairy dust feeling, succumbing for the first time to the thought of "I cannot." For the first time ever, these words entered my psyche. Who knows what it was? Perhaps something a teacher, grown up or coach mentioned or said. Some perceived stab in the form of a passing remark stuck straight into a seven year old's impressionable heart.

Who knows what caused such startling realisation? That I had been dreaming all along and could not continue to do so any longer. So I stopped pretending and put a halt on imagining. Resigning to the thought of "I cannot." No longer was I childlike enough.

~ When I Was Capable Of Anything ~

Ben Sippola