It is indeed rather cold on the pitch as well as in the atmosphere. It was not unlike a football atmosphere. But this was what the weather in France is like when approaching the end of the year. Cold chilly air enough to shake one to the core, with the constant howling of strong winds that may blow you off balance if you are not careful.

This is the football environment that Kai is working in. Yet despite supposedly being his first time living abroad, he has seemingly already adapted to the dramatic change in climate, which is helped by the future soul of Kai coming back in time.

Thinking back, Kai could still remember the context in which he arrived in France. Although unconventional, he is not native to this European country but is a pure blooded Asian that only moved abroad for study reasons.

In fact, the only reason Kai moved to France was that he was part of an international student exchange program, with him being one of the lucky few selected to come to France to gain some experience living abroad.

But although he is primarily sent here to study at the University, being an avid football fanatic like himself, he just couldn resist the temptation of an opportunity to dabble in football, a sport that he admired dearly. With him only able to worship the players that could make a career with the game.

As for himself, Kai could only show pity. His countrys culture in part eliminated any chance of him pursuing the path of playing football, and adding that with family pressure, it forced Kai to an extent that he had no choice but to focus everything on academic studies.

But, away from his parents watchful eyes, away from the social restraint, and with an open opportunity for the taking. The Kai of the past decided to participate in football, not as a player, but as a coach. After all, it was far too late for him to start playing football again, not when he is already in his mid-20s.

Kai put his focus back on the pitch, where Marley was giving the players a talk, with the teenagers that are not yet adults surrounding the chubby manager in a circle. But those players aren just any players, they are the academy players of Le Havre U-19 Team. And they are currently competing in the Championnat National U-19 League in France.

And thinking back to the next league match, in which they would be competing against RC Lens U-19 Team next week. Kai couldn help but be slightly nervous, it was only thinking about how he is making a difference in such a club does he realise how much of an effect he could have.

Even though Kai is only working in the youth team, he still liked the thought that he may be part of the coaching staff that is shaping the next generation of players that may play for the first team. Excitement boiled in his heart, yet nervousness was also mixed within.

But perhaps the person who is feeling most energetic about the match next week is not Kai, who would have his second chance in football, but Manager Marley himself.

The fatso observed the players that were gathered around him. They already had some quick five-player matches, and each of the members of the youth team look loose and riled up to some extent. Which is much due to their self-organised game.

”Anyway, lets continue to play. I want you guys to express yourselves on the pitch more. Take bold risks, have the mentality that you can beat your opponent one on one. ”

Whilst Marley drew the attention to the players, each youth team member received the tennis ball in his or her hands, as passed by the coaching staff.

”This is a new training strategy we had decided on following our previous loss. From today onwards, the ball we would normally use for training would be replaced by these tennis balls. ”

At Marleys words, every player looked puzzled but immediately got excited.

”The experiment of trying out something new, a new way of practising. We are going to be competing against another team that is strong, if not even stronger than ourselves. Its up to you now to bring that team down. If you can master your ball control and can keep your cool in the tensest of situations. You can rip through the other team like a knife through butter. Can you guys give me that killer instinct, that killer instinct? ”

Marley paused to allow the thought to sink in. Kai only had a smirk on his face, the fatty always had a charm in the way he talks with the players.

”Our training routine is the same as before. Do those drills but with a tennis ball. Alright, don forget, play an open game. ”

The training session was an open one. There were no time limits, no goalkeeping and no movement instructions to the players. Instead, Marley was seemingly content to let the players work by themselves, to find their weaknesses and address them by themselves. While watching the boys compete and develop as a team, Marley was pleased with how their game was going and was not interested in making any changes to the training set-up. For now.

Kai habitually checked the folder that Marley had previously given to him. And specifically checked todays training schedule. And just as it was displayed to him, the small Asian man standing by the side noted that todays training schedule was detailed as always. But in bold text near the bottom of the page, it says: ”Replace Football with Tennis Ball ”

Ah. Hugo, the Youth Team Assistant Manager has specifically noted this in his schedule. Though Marley often leads the training sessions, with him present in every training session. Everyone that is on the coaching team understands profoundly that Hugo is the true mastermind of the training schedule. And that it is he who is quietly carrying a large duty in silence, unbeknownst to most of the youth team players.

In the middle of the session, a tennis ball came flying from the pitch, a player misplaced his shot, overpowered as they weren quite used to the dramatic change. But it was Kai, who was quietly observing at the sidelines, who stopped the ball right under his feet.

Then, Kai checking his body posture, kicked the ball that is barely larger than the size of a fist, right back at the player who lost control of the ball. Though the player was evidently slightly shaken by the coachs exemplary display of technique.

Lanier, who was busy helping the players who requested his help with a simple passing drill, evidently noticed this development brewing by the sidelines. He started to laugh. ”The kid got a decent pass in him. ” Before turning to his side at Hugo. ”Before long, hes gonna be taking over our ballboy jobs. ”

Marley, who was currently training a group of smaller kids on the pitch started to chuckle as well. ”Those kids will certainly have to find a new partner. If they still expect an old man like me to run around with them. ”

Kai suddenly winked. Marley shot a glance at the face of his newly joint member of the coaching team. The grin on the small Asian mans face must have been enough to get anyone, including Marley himself to crack a smile. Before long, Lanier gestured at him, urging Kai to come over with a signal of his hands.

Kai dutifully took a position next to Lanier. After picking up the ball again, the bald-headed coach swapped duties, with Kai now tasked with some simple passing exercises.

The routine was simple: but effective nevertheless in training the players movement off the ball. With Kai acting as a fulcrum for the youth team players passes. And making movements off where the Asian man is standing. It is purposed to finalise the players movement, coordination, and teamwork in the opposition third.

Lanier, instead of continuing the mundane passing duties, exited the pitch to observe on the sidelines. All whilst instructing the youth team players on how they could have improved, and what they should have done in the exercise to be more effective during in-game situations. Though his feedback sounded more like barbaric shouts than calm-headed constructive feedback.

Though Kai is simply performing some simple passes, it is much more complicated than it seems. As this is a group activity including two teams, both adorned in red and blue bibs, both trying to gain possession of the ball before scoring with the small nets on either end of the small, condensed pitch.

Though, to the average casual observer, he is likely just doing simple passes and encouragement for the players. And not much else.

However, in Kais heart, he had never gotten as much fulfilment as he currently has. To be able to enjoy a game of football, and take part in it in whatever shape or form, will, and forever be a dear memory he would closely hold on to. Even if he is just helping the youth team training.

After some time in training, which the time reached exactly 2:00 pm, Kai left the pitch and made a direct route for a white towel, and his cleats were gleaming. As the outfield session has concluded following strictly Hugos schedule.

Though, upon resting near the benches besides the open green pitch, Kai noticed a particular youth player, who was just arriving at the training ground. With him panting his breath, a very rangy, very dark-skinned young man, wearing the teams historic baby blue training jersey and dark-coloured shorts.

Seeing this boy come out, Hugos face turned sour. His normally stoic and composed face was nowhere to be seen. His voice was terse as he spoke to the young man.

”You are almost half an hour late. Warm up immediately before joining in with training. ” While his tone carried a degree of annoyance towards the boy. His voice was also very flat, which is in stark contrast to how he normally talks.

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