A3.5_CartoonForWebI never thought I would be sitting in class instead of training with Lionel Messi. But then again, I never thought I would ever have the opportunity to play with a man who has been honored multiple times as the world’s best player.

When the Georgetown men’s soccer team received news that we would be hosting the Argentinian national soccer team at Shaw Field, we were ecstatic. When we were told that we would have the opportunity to train with them, we couldn’t believe it.

Recently, the men’s soccer team has grown. We play against the top collegiate programs during the season, and scrimmage against semi-professional and professional teams in the spring. With that said, this was the first time that we’d be playing against a national team since I joined the team.

But it wasn’t just a national team, it was the same national team that competed in the World Cup finals a few months prior and contained some of the highest-paid players in the world. This was the definition of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I almost missed out on this opportunity though. The NCAA does not allow student athletes to miss class for their sport in its offseason — even when you are playing with world renowned athletes.

Because of this rule, I found myself, on the first day of Argentinian training, sitting in class listening to a lecture. I was dumbstruck. The reasons I wasn’t with my teammates on Shaw Field playing against the World Cup finalists were trivial. I wouldn’t let it happen again.

That night, I emailed my professor asking for an excused absence since this was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was fortunate that he understood why this was so important and granted the excused absence required to train the next day. I needed to be on that field. It is truly an odd feeling sitting in class minutes waiting to play against players like Sergio Agüero and Ángel Di María. It was even odder walking the same path we take each day to practice to witness crying fans and police checkpoints every 10 yards.

But normalcy returned once we were on the field. While we warmed up, there was no Argentina in sight. This soon changed. A black Mercedes van pulled up and strikers that I had only seen on televised games poured out. I could barely describe the experience. I was standing alongside and playing with the players I emulated.

The experience was incredible. Argentina had planned on making it a private training session, but it was far from private. Fans crowded around the field, and peered down from buildings; they were everywhere that enabled them to sneak a peak.

But it didn’t stop there. The game was even stopped multiple times after fans rushed on to the field, trying to capture selfies with players like Javier Mascherano and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

When I finally had my opportunity in goal, it didn’t go as I had imagined. Before I knew it, Di María was attacking the goal.

He got free and managed a shot that hit my gentleman’s area. It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t feel too good, but at least now I can say I saved a shot by the Manchester United forward.

The game ended. We took some pictures so we could have a physical memory of the experience. Then they left. After my teammates and I finished playing against some of the most talented players in the world, we celebrated the only way we knew how. Chicken Finger Thursday. Just like that, we were back to life at Georgetown. For a brief, glorious day, I was playing soccer with the Argentina national team. But the next, I was back in lecture.

I think you know which one I preferred.

Anderson de Andrade is a sophomore in the College.

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