OF BAD BOYS AND EYEBROW RAISING TRANSFERS

Did you catch the Supercup derby last Sunday? Well, I did (on TV of course) and it was a hoot! It was right after church (where, btw, I am a Sunday School teacher), I had eaten, taken a nap, and I was more than ready for it.¬†Down here, we call it the Mashemeji Derby, and every time these two teams meet, there’s bound to be fireworks for fans and players alike!

Can you believe these two teams have met 97 times, including last week’s match? Amazing!!

I was kind of jealous of the people who had made it to Afraha Stadium to watch the game. It felt like the teams and their fans were part of something familial and I was just an outsider looking in. This is perhaps one of the greatest and longest football feuds in our nation, and it sucks not feeling connected to the history of these two amazing teams!! ūüė¶

Anyway, enough of the melodrama! Let me get right into it. It was a spectacular game with¬†Gor looking stronger from the onset, in my point of view, and it was kind of disappointing that there weren’t as many goals as you would want in such an exciting clash! What did catch my attention, though, was the roughness of the game.¬†This game was so intense and the referee had to make some tough calls throughout the game, including giving one ‘Gattuso’, a yellow card in like the first 15 minutes of the encounter.

I was struck by how aggressive he could be, but hey, he’s a midfielder, it’s bound to happen. What caught me off-guard is what the commentators said once he was shown the yellow. Their comments went along the lines of, ‘oh, this is normal, he’ll probably end up with a red, most probably won’t last the entire game’…(they were speaking in Swahili by the way just in case you were wondering). Shots fired!!

Gattuso is a skilled midfielder, with a stellar football career that has spanned more than five years. Having played for Gor Mahia, Sofapaka, and Tusker FC in the past, he has gained a reputation for being combative (in and out of the field) and an individual who is not squeamish about putting his body on the line in order to get the much-needed results for his team. He gets the job done……when,¬†and if, he decides to show up.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a bad boy as much as the next girl, and his antiques over the years, especially while he was in Gor, were definitely newsworthy. From arriving late for training, missing training sessions, going missing completely from training camps, to numerous fines, and fights, and social media rants, this midfielder has earned a place on the list of¬† Kenyan football bad-asses!!

Which is why I was sort of surprised to hear about his recent transfer to ‘The Den’, Gor Mahia’s main rival. I mean, doesn’t AFC Leopards have enough problems to deal with at the moment without having to add a temperamental, headstrong bad boy with a penchant for flouting team rules on to its worry list? And, doesn’t the coach know that bad boys equal heartbreaks? Take it from me, I am a girl, I know these things!

The Leopards could possibly be on the brink of financial collapse and the last thing the team needs is indiscipline or even a hint of it amongst its ranks. Otherwise, their entire 2018 campaign is in jeopardy.

But, who knows, Gattuso could be exactly what they need right now in these dark financial times. Drama, passion, action, and heat follow this man wherever he goes and he could be a critical ingredient to one of their most fierce cup challenges yet. This could be the home he has been looking for, and with proper management, Ingwe could be looking at their next midfield talisman. Only time will tell!!

Good luck to both team and player!

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MY LOVE FOR SOCCER: WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

What inspired me to start a blog about football? (Slight update: it’s no longer just about football, but also about everything in this crazy head!)

The same thing that inspires me to get out of bed every morning, pure, intense passion!

I love football, I have since I was in primary school. If I can remember correctly, I was a puny girl in Standard Four or Five that was socially awkward and loved to read. You know what else I loved back then? You guessed it, playing football! I was not good at all, but I loved running up and down chasing after that ball every break time, home time, and games time. A big thank you to the dudes in my class that allowed me to play with them.

And then came the moment that would change my love affair with football forever. Before this, it was just a game, but it would soon become more than that. It would become a way of life.

It was around June 2002, I was in Standard Six, and by all accounts, it was shaping up to be a good year for me. Academically, I was doing good, I had managed to make a few friends in school, and my crush list was a mile long! World Cup fever was at its peak all over the world, and in our home. I remember my brother and I having stuck newspaper pullouts of Ronaldo,Rivaldo, Ballack, Beckham, Roberto Carlos, and Khan on our closet doors. On second thought, I think it was just me doing that! This was the first time I had ever even heard these names in my life, and seen so many football games in such a short span of time. I was soooooooooo excited! The World Cup, Brazil, to be specific, was all we could talk about in school, and all we could talk about at home. It was a spectacular time!

I cannot remember which game it was. I cannot even remember which day it was. I don’t remember if I had eaten, or done my homework. In fact, I don’t even remember if it was day or night! All I remember is catching a glimpse of him on the screen every few minutes. If he wasn’t ‘chengaing’ defenders with his amazing dribbling skills, he was threatening goal. I swear even the cameras could not catch up with him in that match.

And his hair! Gosh, I think he’s the reason I am obsessed with men with long hair to this day. You would just see a kasmall¬†ponytail move from left to right every time he got the ball. I did not know it then, but I was laying my eyes for the first time on one of the greatest loves of my life for decades to come! It was not about his physique, (okay, maybe except his hair!), it was more about his skills on the pitch that absolutely blew my mind!

But, as far as I can remember, no one talked about him as much as I wanted. Everyone else was head over heels with the likes of Ronaldo. It didn’t matter, this special young man had caught my attention, and he would hold it hostage forever!

His free kick against England sealed the deal for me. I faintly recall I was sitting in my mum’s favorite chair when the highlight of that came on. I was witness to magic and my young, pre-adolescent brain was stunned.

Seeing him play that game that way ignited a flame of sorts within. I was hooked on football after that. It’s like he introduced me to a new world that I could engage with nearly every weekend. A world I felt comfortable in where I wasn’t shy, or scared, or ashamed about my excessively huge forehead, or the fact that I did not have a single ounce of confidence in myself. The more I engaged with this new world, the more I connected with people around me, because now I had something in common with them.

I have followed Ronaldinho’s career since that game up until he announced his retirement this year. I was so enamored by this guy that for the longest time I used his name, Moreira, as my surname on Facebook. This connection is deep, yoh, it’s deep. When he retired last month, I cried, and told everyone about him leaving the game, even my mum. Speaking of my mum, according to her, he was my first boyfriend because I could not shut up about him!! And she kept making fun of his teeth to infuriate me. And I would shout back that it wasn’t about how he looked, but about HOW HE PLAYED!!! You should hear how she pronounces his name…it’s heartbreaking!

Anyway, he was my first MVP, and I want to dedicate my future posts on this blog to individuals like him who make this and other sports so amazing, so magical, so life changing!

PS: A big shout-out to Radio Jambo for always having my back when the local TV channels were unable to air football matches, and we didn’t have DSTV and I was too young to go watch in a bar! You guys are also MVPs.

 

Making Sense of My World, One Post At A Time

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